Lessons from Cirque Du Soleil
Last year, Cirque Du Soleil, came for the first time to India. For the uninitiated, Cirque Du Soleil, is the largest theatrical producer in the world and renowned for their shows all over the world especially in Las Vegas.
It is a 34 year old organisation and has been a pioneer in terms of live stage show innovations.
When they came to India, they especially designed their 43rd show, Bazzar, comprising Indian performers and even a performance based on Indian traditional sport called Mallakhamba
I went to see them with the family and it was revelation watching them.
I learnt a lot about running a show and making sure the experience stays with the audience even after they leave the performance. Sharing some thoughts.
- Teamwork works best with things at stake for team members : Almost all of their performance were team bound. They were such a marvellous piece of teamwork despite being dangerous, that each one can be taught as case study. What really worked in my opinion for them was that, there were things at stake for everyone in the team at performance (and at stake for them were lives). In essence, teamwork works the best when there is skin in the game for everyone.
- Attention to detail matters : The show was all about attention to details. Every single thing was rehearsed over and over yet looked natural and spontaneous when done in front of audience. The margin of error was razor thin - lives were at stake. But stole the show was that even in-ear monitor of singer were custom made like jewellery which she was wearing to make it look part of accessories.
- Story matters, nothing else : While I didn't realise what sucked me to the performance, a innocent question by my 4 year old made me realise that not just he but I and everyone else in the audience were not hooked to the act but to the story. The story followed the Villain, Victim, Hero framework, an exquisite framework to build upon the story and suspense
- Always have one narrator : Over the 1.5 hours performance, there was only one narrator, who kept coming back to weave through the complete story and kept the connect of audience with the story intact. You always need one narrator. More than one distracts the show and the audience and resets their expectations and narrative of the show. It also helps when the narrator wants to include the audience in the narrative and make them part of show. It keeps the story line smooth and keeps the audience sucked into the performance.
- Happy Endings : People don’t pay for how hard you worked behind the scenes if you screw up on the stage. It is always about happy ending. If it isn't happy, it's not the end. You got to keep working till you find the right note, which makes the story look better, sound better.