The new era of entertainment: Showmaking Innovation

Entertainment is the oldest form of experience design, from tribal members sharing legends and myths or dancing around the fire and mothers singing lullabies to babies to the ancient music that accompanied spiritual rituals and religious ceremonies. Those who saw, heard and felt these forms of entertainment would not only be moved in the moment but often these experiences would stay with them, sculpting their aesthetics, sense of beauty, and influencing how a civilization’s people would communicate and tell stories.

Always, entertainment has been embedded in every culture, but also it is one of the main catalysts that drives it. Anthropology, sociology, technology – and our very humanity – they’ve all evolved as our forms of entertainment have evolved.

I have always been fascinated by the entertainment arts, starting from my early youth when I was a dancer performing on stages across Europe, to my time at university and my early career, studying and creating various forms of entertainment worldwide. For the last two decades, I’ve continued learning, discovering, experimenting. I love to play with genres, style and form, to create the dramatically different, move audiences with something unexpected and extraordinary. I know when you will smile, dream, desire or applaud – because these moments have all been artfully designed, nothing left to chance.

Many friends, clients and collaborators ask me, “Lukas, where do you think the new era of entertainment is going? What will be the next evolution?”

Before I share my perspective, I must remind you: no matter the form, genre or innovation, entertainment always has and always must possess two critical elements. You must have a good story to tell, and you need to tell it exceptionally well.

Not much different than the elements of good branding or advertising, is it?

What makes a show showstopping?

I am incredibly excited about the future! I foresee evolution in three different aspects of live entertainment:

1. Talent & Craftsmanship 

Talent has been and always will be the most admired virtue – the skilled actors, singers, dancers, musicians, acrobats and other special talent who have mastered their art, and who are the story. Without them, there is no show, no need to build sets and props, nobody to costume or direct. The new era of entertainment will be driven by talent and quality, not quantity.

If talent is the story, think of craftsmanship as the storytellers. It is the next generation of trailblazing writers, directors, choreographers, dramaturgists, costume and prop makers, scenographers and composers who will craft the shows, ensuring they’re well told, no matter how innovative.

2. Unique Venues

Where we see a show can be as much a part of the experience as the show itself. Entertainment trendsetters are redefining or even reinventing venues. One emerging trend is the multipurpose venue – it might be an art gallery by day, a performance space by night. Or a lobby that turns into a dance floor, with a deejay, a light show and a bar. Public spaces in our hotels, cruise ships, even office buildings can become these new venues. Technology will also shape them. Think automation, moving walls, aerial or vertical stages or backdrops.

I also think we’ll see more intimate venues – smaller spaces, a smaller cast, closer proximity to the audience. This will make the experience more immersive than ever.

3. Total Works of Art

19th-century German composer Richard Wagner coined the term Gesamtkunstwerk to sum up his approach to operas, treating them as total works of art. By synthesizing all its elements – music, poetry, drama, theatre, costume, and set design – he ensured that the entire performance existed as a unified, coherent, total work, mesmerizing audiences on multiple levels. 

In our ever evolving quest for memorable experiences, there is a shift towards the multisensory. Like Wagner, I believe that we can make our audience feel with all senses by integrating the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, with a dash of technology.

These are the elements that will usher in the next era of wow.

Where is live entertainment headed?

  • Immersion & intimacy – Sometime the audience will be on the stage, sometimes the cast will be among the audience
  • A mashup of genres and style – Combining drama, ballet, opera, poetry, circus, street art, cultural expressions and fine arts to create something entirely new
  • New styles of direction and choreography inspired by new media, combining the traditional with the unusual
  • New formats of live entertainment – such as series, miniatures, urban reimaginings
  • A trend towards unusual scenography. Architecture, fine arts, culture, product design and much more will be sources of inspiration
  • New technologies media that enhance the story’s essence. Think 3D travelling sound, kinetic scenery, scent machines, innovative lighting, automation
  • The use of gamification principles and Augmented Reality effects (ARX) to amplify audience engagement

At the end of the day, entertainment is, and will always be an experiential art. In whatever form or iteration comes next, art must pulsate. It is the heartbeat of culture. It must keep moving or it will become stagnant. And stagnation is not how civilizations evolve.

The stories we tell, and where and how we tell them, this is how we move humanity forward.

Want to know and see more? Want to ideate or create a concept? 
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