Tromolo Productions and La Chunky Studios – Biding Time (remix)
Impacts: International engagement
La Chunky Studios sponsored Tromolo Productions to produce a run of multimedia performance Biding Time (remix) at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival as part of the prestigious Made In Scotland showcase. Made In Scotland aims to showcase the best theatre, dance and music productions produced in Scotland at the Fringe with a view to exporting them internationally. Biding Time (remix) was devised by award winning Grid Iron Co-Artistic Director Ben Harrison and A Band Called Quinn. The show was devised in response to a shared story project called Biding Time, which examined roles for women in the entertainment industry. This prompted Louise Quinn as a female singer/ songwriter and Artistic Director of Tromolo Productions to write the show based on her experiences of the music industry.
The show received an overwhelmingly positive response from critics and audience members on its first performance at The Arches in the autumn of 2012. A subsequent tour and a few dates at the Fringe in 2013 proved just as successful. This led to the selection of the show as part of Made In Scotland. We knew if we were part of this showcase that we would get the opportunity to perform the show to international bookers and producers. With the additional support of La Chunky and Arts & Business Scotland we would be able to do a full run of performances and allow more opportunities for the international delegates to see our work.
The story in the show is told through songs, screens and silent disco headsets, which the audience wear. We recorded the soundtrack of songs to the show at La Chunky studios and knew how great the facilities and personnel are to work with. We approached them about the sponsorship and they agreed. With the rise of home recording studios, the recording studio business is suffering. La Chunky saw the sponsorship as a means of raising their profile and reaching a new potential customer base.
Part of the success of Biding Time (remix) has been attributed to the use of silent disco technology to create an immersive experience for the audience. The audience wear silent disco headsets throughout the performance and the intimacy of hearing the performances and sound design through the headsets greatly enhances the audience experience of the story. Biding Time (remix) is the first ever theatrical production to use this digital technology in such a context.
Being based on real life experiences and with A Band Called Quinn’s performance at the heart of the show, Biding Time (remix) manages to retain a lot of soul in such a digitized setting. Audiences engaged via social media and were encouraged to tweet, Facebook and Instagram photos and responses during the performance. This is very unconventional for a theatrical performance but a comment in itself on the nature of the entertainments industry and celebrity in the digital age. It also gave the audience further interaction with the piece.
La Chunky are a recording studio with amazing resources and expertise in analogue recording in a digital context. This mirrors Biding Time (remix) in their ability to retain some ‘soul’ in a digitized environment. The soundtrack to Biding Time (remix) was initially recorded at La Chunky and has received national and international airplay (BBC Radio 2, BBC 6Music, BBC Radio Scotland, Amazing Radio…), press and online coverage. Copies of the album were distributed to international delegates and put Tromolo Productions at a distinct advantage at oversubscribed networking meetings during the Fringe.
Because the story of Biding Time (remix) is set in the music industry, La Chunky was the perfect partner. The cross media nature and subject matter of the show attracted many audience members working in the industry and potential clients for La Chunky. It also attracted existing clients of La Chunky who may not have otherwise attended a theatre performance at the Fringe.
We worked with La Chunky to achieve an impressive amount of media coverage for the Fringe run; press releases, newsletters, adverts, posters and flyers, a PR company and a successful studio launch party created a lot of ‘buzz’ around the show. Much international interest in the show resulted in performances at this year’s Cultura Inglesa Festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil and a significant increase in La Chunky’s client base. The performances at Cultura Inglesa have led to interest in having the show transfer to Rio and Mexico in the future. The show has been invited to run in New York and La Chunky continues to support Tromolo with collaboration with international artist Kid Loco.
Arts/cultural organisation story
The run of Biding Time (remix) at this year’s Fringe has led to the show receiving four more four star reviews, including a glowing review in The Times; performances of the show at this year’s Cultura Inglesa Festival in Brazil; discussions with other international bookers about other international dates; discussions about future collaborations; discussions about future project development and increased audience awareness and engagement with the piece and Tromolo Productions. Our recent performances in Sao Paulo have led to interest in a booking for Rio in the future. International delegates from Mexico, Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, Moscow, USA, Canada and Argentina attended the show resulting in the booking at Cultura Inglesa and discussions with presenters from Mexico, Moscow, China and New Zealand.
Unanticipated outcomes include discussions about the development of a new multimedia project entitled Short Lives Of The Saints with Mexican British Council director Edgardo Bermejo, discussions with Russian director Sasha Pas about collaborating on a production of Nicola McCartney’s show about electronic female artist Delia Derbyshire, ‘Standing Wave’ and a virtual songwriting exchange with a choir at Platform in Glasgow and a group at The Yuva Ekta Foundation in New Delhi. The latter evolved from a conversation with Managing Trustee Puneeta Roy.
Visiting New Zealand company, Bullet Heart Club said “Biding Time (remix) was one of our favourite shows, and really inspired us to keep pushing ourselves with our music/theatre projects here in New Zealand.” They are pushing to get the show over to New Zealand and would like to collaborate with Tromolo Productions in the future.
International producer Shoshana Polanco has been recommending it to other presenters and has already put us in touch with a programmer for a festival in Chile.
Film producer Kate Swan also attended a performance and really enjoyed it, which may prove useful in the proposed development of a feature film based on the story of the show.
The audience engaged with the piece by tweeting pictures taken during the show and we have some very positive feedback from audience members on twitter and Facebook. We compiled these tweets into a Storify story. We gained hundreds of new followers on twitter over the run and lots of new likes on Facebook.
The show made it into The Scotsman’s top ten recommended Fringe shows and was Today’s choice in The Scotsman Arts on the 5th of August. The track from the trailer for the show ‘You Know The Right People’ was played by Tom Robinson on his BBC6 Music show and posted on the Fresh On The Net blog.
In a post Fringe discussion on BBC Scotland, theatre critic Neil Cooper mentioned five ‘great shows by women’ including Biding Time (remix).
La Chunky gained exposure to a new audience of theatre goers, theatre makers, people interested in sound design and the use of digital technology in a theatrical context as well a host of international delegates and cultural ambassadors from around the world. They have had work and enquiries from other production companies about the possibilities of producing soundtrack albums to shows and gained new followers on twitter, Facebook likes and social media engagement. Ian Rankin’s Rebus books are now being recorded in audio book form at La Chunky; Ian is a supporter of A Band Called Quinn and wrote the sleeve notes for their Beggar’s Opera album.
La Chunky studios have increased their international profile now as meetings with international delegates lead to further distribution of the soundtrack album, which is being played and appreciated around the world as a result. This creates potential for bookings from international artists and collaborators. The recordings from the soundtrack album were played on national TV in Brazil and the gigs and shows of Biding Time (remix) exposed the soundtrack recordings to thousands of Brazilian English language students between the ages of 15-25 as well as the general population in Sao Paulo. Some of the workshop participants studied music production and sound design and were keen to learn more about La Chunky. The run at Edinburgh Fringe as part of Made In Scotland has increased the profile of La Chunky on a global as well as local level; many international artists and labels who like the sound of an album quite often book recording time in the studio it was recorded in to try and recreate it. A band from Japan was in La Chunky recording recently.
The potential future collaborations for Tromolo productions in Mexico, Moscow, New Zealand, New Delhi and EIF offer further profile raising exposure for La Chunky as any sound design and soundtrack recording will be recorded there. Tromolo’s continued relationship with La Chunky has led to the recording of a collaboration by Louise Quinn, Bal Cooke and internationally renowned French DJ and producer Kid Loco which a French label plan to release on vinyl.
The studio launch party showcased the studio to a host of creatives and people linked to the creative industries as attendees and on social media. The party received coverage on STV and La Chunky were credited as the sponsors of this year’s run of Biding Time (remix) in a Music News Scotland feature about the show’s Arts & Business Scotland Awards.
Doing the run of Biding Time (remix) at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2014 as part of the Made In Scotland showcase lead to more followers and engagement on social media for La Chunky Productions, Tromolo Productions and A Band Called Quinn. Audience members tweeted pictures and reactions to the show and shared their experience of the show on Facebook with their friends and followers. Many audience members said they loved the show and found it to be a very unique experience. The Art Director of the Mexican British Council said he found the show to be life affirming and incredibly engaging. The British Council said the show was in the top three shows for international delegates. The show received similar reactions from audiences in Sao Paulo; developing an international audience and creating opportunities for Tromolo Productions for international touring, collaborations and future productions. Television coverage and appearances in Brazil increased engagement and interest in our work internationally. Domestic media coverage and interest in our activities abroad reinforced engagement and interest closer to home.
The audience were diverse in terms of age and background but many extremely enthusiastic tweets were from the 15-35 year old audience and the booking in Brazil was for an English Language school with students aged 15-25. As well as performing Biding Time (remix) we played gigs and did Q&A’s at some of the school’s campuses all over Sao Paulo. We delivered a workshop where we spoke about how we made Biding Time (remix) and encouraged the participants to write a song about their own life experiences which we recorded and shared on Soundcloud and social media. All of the participants said they thought the workshop was an amazing experience and the festival programmers were delighted with the outcomes.
Audience attendance was good for the Fringe and alongside the national media coverage created a whole new potential market for La Chunky Productions. A four star review in The Times raised the profile of the show in terms of audience perception and future engagement. Getting played on BBC 6 Music is a real validation of the recordings and La Chunky Studios as competition for the ever decreasing national radio play spots for independent artists is extremely fierce.
Without the New Arts Sponsorship Grant we would not have been able to do a full run of the show at the Fringe and would have not have gained the media coverage, international opportunities and audience engagement that we did. Another show that was similar to ours and was also part of Made In Scotland could only afford to do a one week run and as a result did not gain the reviews, international delegate attendance and audiences that we were able to build.
As a result of receiving the New Arts Sponsorship Grant Tromolo Productions has gained an international profile and La Chunky Studios has gained a whole new market.