Corporeal Work in the Corporate Sector

Feature in Issue 6-1 | Spring 1994

Wayne Pritchett, Director of Mimescope, suggests ways in which mime can be developed for use by corporations and business.

Corporations know what they want in terms of their business objectives. It is not their job to appreciate the full possibilities of physical theatre, and practitioners often have to harness all their experience in visualisation, writing, directing and performing to get an approach which interprets a client’s business objectives. The best tactical approach with the client is – ‘You control, I organise’. It can be a very beneficial exchange, financially and creatively for both parties. For the mime practitioner it is certainly different, and, in my opinion, much easier than the theatre journey of creating something from nothing. The corporations tell you what they want and you work out how to produce it. You negotiate a budget and go on until the client is satisfied.

Tioxide, a subsidiary of ICI, were preparing for the launch of their new paint pigment TR92. They had the initial idea of using mime but didn’t know how. At Mimescope we studied their technical specifications and created The Theatre of Paint, a complete production with director, designer, composer, musicians, mimes, dancers and technical staff. The live shows were so successful that Tioxide asked Mimescope to make a video of The Theatre of Paint for worldwide distribution. A company report said, ‘The live and video mime productions communicate new customer benefits to multiple language markets.’

Mime can be used to support and enhance a client’s objectives in a number of ways. For example:

Technology

Hyphen Limited were launching a newspaper computer printer at Birmingham NEC. Mimescope were commissioned to write and direct special presentations in which the mime performer interacted with a computerised audio visual presentation.

Script plus visual

Sometimes words are needed to get across the client’s objectives. Herfurth Limited were launching a new plastic welding machine, again at Birmingham NEC. The machine itself was rather boring, its operation needing just a couple of buttons. I wrote a lively double act in which the mime performer interacted with the verbal delivery of the company’s sales director.

Walkabout Entertainment

Corporations book walkabout entertainers to draw attention to their displays at trade exhibitions.

Special presentations for the client

Sometimes corporations want special presentations about their company. This requires research for which, of course, you should charge a fee. For example, I spent a week researching the corporate culture of Mercury Communications Limited and wrote a show called Mercury Today

which I presented at 25 conferences from Bristol to Glasgow. My presentation was followed by a delegate discussion about the way the organisation was run.

Corporate videos / Corporate training

Corporations use mime practitioners in staff training and corporate videos. Recently Thorn EMI asked Mimescope to give a presentation which linked the stress experienced by their trainers with the stress of the actor on stage

Practical tips

When working with corporations you have to guide them to get what you require. In particular you have to hold out for paid rehearsal time – they somehow think that once you have talked about an idea you will simply be able to produce it on the day without rehearsal. You should also suggest engaging a movement director. Before making a training video for Esso I acted out the mime I intended to do and then said I wanted a mime director at the shoot. They were surprised but they agreed. During filming the Esso executives came to fully appreciate the value of the objective and very experienced eye of the mime director. You often have to pitch for a job by giving the company free ideas of how you will do it. Obviously there is a risk in this.

Mimescope has developed the practice of asking for a fee for the use of our visualisation ideas which I then write out as a script.

Corporate work offers a new challenge which is usually well paid. Both the money and the team work connections can be used to develop your theatre work. I have engaged performers, directors, composers, designers and technicians on a corporate project and then gone on to work with them on theatre projects.

Wayne Pritchett is the Director of Mimoscope Limited, an independent production company which has worked in the corporate sector since 1986. Mimescope is also a licensed agency booking for film, television and theatre.

Artforms
Referenced Artists

This article in the magazine

Issue 6-1
p. 5 - 6