Case Study: Reassembled, Slightly Askew
In 2008, Shannon Yee nearly died from a rare brain infection. Reassembled, Slightly Askew, an immersive, audio-based dramatic installation relays her experience and the process of putting her life back together with an acquired brain injury.
Audience members experience the show lying on a hospital bed while blind-folded and wearing headphones. Advanced audio technology creates a 3D sound experience - putting the listener inside Shannon’s head as she deals with her descent into a coma, brain surgery, early stages of recovery and reintegration into the world with a hidden disability.
Shannon approached thrive (at the time named Audiences NI) to come up with a plan as to how to find an audience for this challenging piece of work, without mis-selling it. We wanted to create a practical guide which would help box office and front of house staff in venues across Northern Ireland to be able to explain it to their very different audiences, ensuring that this important piece of work was seen by as many as possible.
What We Did
We worked with Shannon (the writer) and the tour manager to create an accessible and appropriate plan for a five venue, regional tour of this non-traditional audience experience. The tour included Down Arts Centre, the Playhouse Derry, Flowerfield Arts Centre, The Burnavon and Island Arts Centre.
The hurdles we wanted to address included:
- The work is not a traditional 'theatre' experience
- There is a participatory element which can be off-putting and intimidating for some audiences
- Small audience numbers can also be intimidating
- Venues have different levels of capacity within the tour, so the plan needed to fit all
So we wanted to:
- Identify the different types of audiences and their motivations for attending
- Create a tagline and copy
- Create a venue marketing pack - to provide marketing & front of house staff in all venues with key messages, how to talk about the show and previous audience feedback
- Create a communications plan - including key messages, suitable communication channels, a social media plan and identifying all PR angles & opportunities available
Through the regional Northern Ireland tour, 185 individuals experienced the full show across the 5 venues. Tickets sold well in most venues and sales grew as the tour progressed. Sales were noticeably lower where a venue did not use the pack or did not communicate with their front of house staff about the show.
Following the learning from this tour, Shannon focused on building the positive momentum of the show - including building networks in the Liverpool area, the Republic of Ireland, and across England as part of Battersea Arts Centre’s Collaborative Touring Network.
Reassembled, Slightly Askew was invited to be part of A Nation’s Theatre Festival at the Battersea Arts Centre in London in May 2016 - the only NI show to be invited to take part. The show had a three-week run, receiving great audience feedback and press reviews. There is also a proposed tour to Dublin in autumn 2016.
The communications plan helped organise the wide range of content for social media and publicity during the tour. Similar to the venue marketing pack, it provided a strong basis for future versions which have been used with Battersea Arts Centre (and impressed them), and will be used for performances at The Complex, Dublin and the England-wide Collaborative Touring Network.
What the Press Said
“A real-life ordeal, captured by a daring, disorientating artistic collaboration, which works brilliantly on so many levels… It should be available on prescription.”
★★★★★ – The Stage
“When a doctor asks her if she knows where she is, I had to suppress the urge to shout: “In hell.”. That makes the show sound gruelling. It is, but it is also uplifting and empathetic. Since her illness, Yee may feel slightly askew, but this 80-minute piece is beautifully put together.”
★★★★ – The Guardian
Do It Yourself
Looking for a way to get similar results? Check out our free resource, the Producer to Venue Theatre Marketing Toolkit.