I spent some time over the last couple of months helping to develop, script and deploy http://youshallgototheball.com, a storytelling game for people planning to watch the Royal Opera House’s production of Cinderella for free on BBC Big Screens around the UK on July 13th 2011.
This, I have to tell you, is not a massive audience to play to. There were probably only about 10,000(ish) people turning up on the night across 12 screens, most of them in Trafalgar Square - and a very small percentage of those are interested in both opera, outdoor events *and* social media.
The goal then was not to grab a massive number of ‘hits’ or ‘likes’, but rather to build a storyworld which delivered to active users simple ways of enhancing their enjoyment of their night out at the Big Screen Ball (taking pics, sharing comments, dressing up, roleplaying, winning comfy cushions).
The more we could then reflect back to the wider (more passive) audience signs of this core group having fun, the better. And then *everyone* could enjoy the animations on the Big Screen that were built up using some of the assets generated by the online audience.
In the end, what will stick with me most of all about this project is the smiley faces of these people holding up their ‘crown’ badges or their cushions, won by joining in a country-wide #crownhunt:
A lot of talented people working together just to produce one or two smiley faces might not seem like a great economic or artistic model to you. But for me, this is becoming a rather compelling model for this kind of work – an audience & a production team striving to conjure up a magic moment for just one person THAT ISN’T YOU.
I first cottoned on to this idea with the Kidmapped project, which was a lot of walking, filming, editing, blogging & audience participation that really culminated in one very poor quality image of two people – previously strangers – looking very chuffed with themselves after an unexpected sailing trip.
I’m not sure this measurement of success is going to persuade the ROH to have another go at this kind of work. You Shall Go To The Ball, though, was a very interesting experiment in how to extend a ROH production online in various playful, social ways. And it spurs me on to think of other projects that might grab audiences in ones & twos, rather than hundreds & thousands.
Oh - and, as usual, it was great to work with a really talented bunch of people drawn from different disciplines: Rachel Coldicutt on development & scripts; JoyceDiDonato on voice-over; and the *mega*-talented animation team of Carol Soutar and Si Clark who responded so creatively & energetically to the user generated content elicited from the audience (cf #tidying, #partyshoes etc).