My husband, Wayne, and I recently had the pleasure of participating in the Vermont International Performance Salon (VIPS), a virtual video presentation exchange between Vermont and Quebec performers. The idea is to familiarize cross border audiences with nearby talent and venues. Finding videos that best represents “The artist’s work” is not an easy task for live entertainers. After spending hours researching old footage, we realized how difficult it was to find the perfect videos.
The perfect show
I have been in showbiz for over 30 years and, to be honest, a perfect show is rare. When it does happen, it is highly unlikely to have been captured on video. There are countless variables that can throw a show. These variables grow exponentially when performing with full technical support, live musicians, acrobats, not to mention, food and drink.
We have filmed more performances than I can count. It never fails, the night we film and have a killer performance something goes wrong and that perfect video doesn’t happen. Anything from missing audio, a constant buzz, to Pause being pressed instead of Record and everything in between. We have spent good money hiring expensive videographers only to have an unexpected tornado come through town when half the audience doesn’t show up and the other half is constantly checking their iPhone for the latest weather update.
It is not just about video mishaps and bad weather. Imagine this. The videographer is ready, the juggler exits, one of his neon balls bounces off the tray of an incoming waiter causing ten cocktails to crash 2 feet from the stage. We make our big entrance avoiding puddles of alcohol and maraschino cherries… the show must go on! That night we connected with the audience all right, but we were collectively distracted by the clean-up crew crawling around on their hands and knees picking up sharp shards of wet glass. The technical part of the video was perfect that night. Especially the sound, capturing broken glass clinking into the metal ice bucket drowning out all of our intricate tap steps.
Capturing the essence of Living Art
Thankfully this elusive capturing of a magic performance on video might be exactly what keeps live entertainment alive. Les Arts Vivants is about being in the same space and experiencing communal laughter, sighs, sorrow, and excitement. Often the most magical experiences are when something does go wrong and everyone in the room feels the victorious recovery in real time. It makes us feel alive, connected, and coming back for more. Filmed versions of a show will never be able to replace the exchange of physical human energy.
We never did find the perfect videos. Instead, we used existing footage and added some creative twists to give more of a feeling of “Living art”. We would like to thank Theatre Lac Brome, one of the founding venues of VIPS. To see these Living Art videos, visit our SHOWBIZ QUEBEC YouTube channel… It’s free!
Andrea Conway, a grateful transplant surviving tap dancing clown