reflections on the process of creating a festival
papillae! It's a matter of taste
The Papillae festival was organised in the frame of the module Ecologies of Performance at Home of Performance Practices at ArtEZ University.
This page gives an insight to the process of developing this festival, the days of the festival and a reflection afterwards.
This is not an exhaustive documentation, but a collection of individual elements of the production that I have tried to present under my research perspective in the approaches of playfulness and failure.
a taste of the pre-festival production
decorating hub & performance space
the taste of my research
(sparkling, spicy, different then expected)
impressions from the radio station and friday afternoon's BINGO
They come along with 3 T's:
1. The end of the day 2. Tired 3. Tipsy
We collaboratively decided on a theme and aims we want to fulfil during the festival. While we achieved to work on the theme (a matter of taste) in several elements of the festival (e.g. proposing drinks as an example for a taste of the research) our aims need to be looked at more closely. In the pre-production there was a moment to change the path of the festival and turn it into a performance research festival. One reason for this and therefore an aim was to create a platform for us to share our work and have space to provide each other with feedback but also to use this moment of having lecturers around to invite them to join this feedback sharing. In my opinion this didn’t happen because of the programming, the way the individual offers were scheduled, we as a group weren’t able to always attend each other's works and hardly able to even give enough support to each offer. Furthermore, the planned feedback moments were taken out of the program. However, even now after the festival we cannot really exchange feedback if we didn’t attend the performance. Lecturers weren’t specifically invited to attend the sharings and quite often weren’t able to anyways because they still were in class - together with the first year students.
Which leads to the next element that I would approach differently the next time. For reaching our goal around sharing and feedback, everyone/every offer would have needed an audience. One reason that this didn’t work well was because our target audience was students and the Papillae programme was so placed in the days that we lost a lot of audience purely because they had class or rehearsal. This would have been possible to find out about beforehand in order to be taken into account. To gather more audience also the marketing strategies could be improved. While we had a very strong visual identity for which I got the feedback that it is memorable and positively eye-catching, the people did not connect it to the festival. Further, I would reconsider the timing of invites and add a lot more personal invites in emails and classes.
Going hand in hand with marketing is budgeting. While I tried to send concrete plans on how we expect the festival and what we can offer to possible funding sources an improved version of these speculations would be helpful as well as starting to get money even earlier.
One of our aims was open communication. In my opinion, this was not completely fulfilled. By getting the task to possibly find extra spaces for the performances of our first year students and keeping this a secret up to the moment that it is confirmed I found myself in a very uncomfortable position. Working together as a group and sharing responsibility for the event it is unfair and problematic to keep knowledge secret towards the group. Especially if it could interfere with the already made decision everyone works with.
One more thought that comes to my mind is around the idea of hosting. The word hosting was very present from quite the beginning/ first meetings. During the festival the idea of hosting worked sometimes better, sometimes less good. In hosting the audience there could have been more emphasis on it, which is doable with simple things like more help for navigation through the building or a printed version of the schedule. In theory, the hosting of the audience also took place by offering them snacks and a bar. In practice, at one point this failed because the bar keys disappeared. These things I would consider as the very basics of hosting, followed by everyone being informed about everything to be able to give information to the audience at any point. A different type of hosting took place for facilitating our first year cohort in their performance sharings of the module Body in Performance but also in inviting BA Theatre students to a talk format about artistic research. Once again, there were moments when the hosting worked and moments when it did not. If it worked, I tend to think it was due to the efforts of individuals rather than the group. To give an example: the BA students were clearly briefed by one person beforehand which was the base for creating a safe space to speak. This could have been improved through the moderation and a more collectively welcoming attitude from the group.
Now it is one week after the festival: we need to find a moment for a group meeting to execute post festival tasks (e.g. balancing expenses), share reflections and close the project.