Bill Bankes-Jones, 9 June 2015

Making operas and putting them on for the public is huge fun. Sometimes, though, we can lose track of that and it can become the opposite. I called this session to talk about how to keep it fun.

The conversation veered from the playful to the really useful, a large group too many to list in the end (20+).

- Are we talking fun for the organisation or fun for the audience - or is it one thing?

- Is this a question of leadership? To lead a company through a creative process, you have to be either independent of organisational stress, or else very tough. Or just keep it fun.

- What do you do when things aren't fun? you talk to friends. Part of being strong enough to stay positive is to talk to the right person. For both counselling and solutions.

- We seemed to agree that even doing dark pieces is fun. Most dark pieces have very fun beginnings, anyway. But there is also fun to be had all the way along.

- An awful process can lead to rave reviews.

- Do we try to *professionalise* what we do when, in a way, we shouldn't? We try to set it up alongside banking or whatever as a “real” job, but should we try harder to remember we are making our livings from what most people do for fun?

- Definitely avoid the striving for perfection, an enemy of fun.

- Cut your coat according to your cloth. (Not always easy, you have to commit to things in order to garner the resources, there is always an element of gamble involved.)

- “It's never boring to go exploring”

- PHONES are the ENEMY of FUN

- Will's sister is a hugely fun person but hates people who aren't fun. In a fun way.

- It can be huge fun when it goes wrong.

- Don't take it too seriously.

- Lower your expectations.

- There is nothing so liberating as a really good bitching session.

- Gin & Tonic.

- Cake.

- Audiences should be allowed to take food & drink into performances. (Many examples.)

- Watch out for sugar levels.

- Sensitivity/fun.

- Connect people on the edge to the fun in the middle. This was a really helpful point - part of keeping it fun, and keeping projects well supported at the centre is to keep those right on the edge, supporters of all kinds, connected to the fun in the middle.

- Phone don't email.

- Especially avoid email chains, and great streams of email footers bunging up the information.

- Disclaimers for audiences are not fun.

- Fun for audiences emanates from the core company of a project, if the makers and performers are having fun, this radiates out.

- Much discussion of anti-fun irritations among audiences - noisy eating, drinking, fidgeting, coughing, hair-fiddling, etc etc.

- But on the other hand, opera was once entirely about audiences, and maybe it's the audience one still really enjoys. Wagner was wrong.

- Fun is there if we let it be there.

- Toria had a chemistry teacher that was so boring, the class created their own fun by devising *chemistry teacher pinball*, some kind of way of betting about where he would move through the lab. I on the other hand had an amazing chemistry teacher called Doc Wright who was so dangerous (exploding fume cupboards, causing enormous explosions etc) that his lessons were huge fun and all his pupils got great marks.

- keeping it fun as a critic - keep remembering to drive your reviews from an overall passion, always find something nice to say about some aspect of what you've seen, don't be too catty.


critics, expectations, Audiences, opera, audiences, Drink, Food, leadership, CRITICISM, food, Critics, emails, Wagner, Opera, drink, criticism, managerial style, Fun, keeping it fun, chemistry, Criticism, fun, phones