I've reviewed two critiques, one verbal from audience members on our Tunbridge show last Monday and one written after the Welwyn (3rd) show. I also had Jason Gardiner calling me eratic at a Dancing on Ice Press Conference at ITV yesterday!
My my - Everybody's talking at me.. goes the title to the song.
The written critique was in the iSkate magazine that is circulated to the skating community in the UK. This is probably not the best way to encourage people to buy tickets! We had invited them along, we would have preferred a really positive review!
Interesting to read something like this, particularly when you're absolutely cream crackered from lack of sleep as a new dad... How to respond? Ignore it - fight or flight? Be embarassed because of the circulation? What is the appropriate response? Possibly not to write a blog!
I always hear the negatives louder than positives, this is a normal human response apparently.
Firstly - the bottom line is there are 'some truths' in the critique. I have been having a heck of a time trying to get: the visuals, my free form way of working, the overall content nailed and the requirements of the technical lighting and sound team to all link up in ICE TIMES.
Creating a two hour show that has part story, part demonstration with ice dance routines and a trip through time with stand up, new stories each week and a different audience to work with at each venue is a developing journey for me. Every show people offer me more information, I learn more and the show can evolve and become deeper and more fun. The tension here being that the technical team want a set show that is predictable so that they are clear on the many cue points. How to square the circle? How to have it be 'my show' and grow rather than it be me trying to work for the technical, sound and lighting team? How to give the freedom I need to improvise, power ahead and control what is happening in a way that works for me and the rest of the team? How to do this in a way that still delivers a great show at great value? This is the challenge I grapple with right now.
Secondly in this critique there are issues of inaccuracy, I'm no lawyer but there may also be issues of defamation. When comment steps past a personal evaluation from a writer and speaks of what I think and would agree with, without speaking to me directly, then it is misleading to readers as it is conjecture. Seems like it was suggested I swore when off stage, what type of a review is this? What type of publication to say such a thing? How can you be sure it was me? It wasn't actually yet my name is damaged by these comments. Perhaps the lawyers should have a closer at the text and how it was presented. We shall see. Anyway...
Finally, what is the point?.......The point past one article or group of critiques? The applause and the barbs, how to deal with them?
I think, for me as I reflect, the point is not to be upset by critique but to listen in light of the overall goal I seek to achieve. We all want to hear the applause, and there is that, and not the boos, unless you are the pantomine baddy. So what is the goal I seek?
(My son has just delivered a rather loud bottom burp whilst feeding.... puts things into perspective! You have to laugh, he has great timing. He's grown 10 ounces in a week - good boy!)
My goal then is in my company mission statement: To create and deliver brilliant, profitable entertainment. This is the service I seek to deliver and I focus on, it is the business I seek to grow with my lovely Christiane, it is a major part of my background: (1) Brilliant in that the audience love the experience and receive tremendous value for money in entertainment I create and deliver and (2) Profitable because if we don't make income we cannot pay the team, suppliers and ourselves and grow this and other projects.
The response to critique then? What would you do if someone had a go at you? Kick or hide? What would your response to a Jasonite moment be?
My response was already in hand before any written critique was seen and I think is correct. ICE TIMES is growing to a place where I control the flow and pacing of audio and visuals in a way that enables me to develop and easily add and fine tune the content. The grounding of this means I will have freedom within the framework I have created, a framework people have said is fascinating, informative, funny and beautiful.
I think this will be pushing technology in a new way for ice and I sense it could enable ICE TIMES to always be a little different, always fresh and always growing. It may also enable future shows to sparkle even more!
And so back to work to deliver - Unique Skated Storytelling.... Oh yes and to change a nappy!
Ha ha and I have to remember that we have had brilliant shows on the tour so far and that we're creating something fun and unique here - a least that's what we've been told by 'some' of the people that attend...