Tea dance For Little People at Stratford Circus
This project was fantastic to work on, allowing me to revisit some wonderful childhood memories. My aim was to recreate that sense of wonder and amazement I experienced as a child so that the little people visiting Stratford Circus could also experience it. Producing an atmosphere that envelopes people is my main aim. Of course, this atmosphere could be whatever is necessary for a certain project, conveying any information/emotion you like. The constant is the memory created by such an installation, using the power of sound to affect emotion and leave people with a powerful afterglow that visuals alone can’t produce.
This particular installation involves a magical forest backdrop, a tree that tells a story, a bench that snores, a wishing well and wishes that fly through the air (audio examples to be made available soon). All the audio elements of the installation combine to create one unified soundscape. These elements are not stand-alone pieces but all work together to create one atmosphere where sounds may or may not be played together. The forest backdrop, wishing well and wishes are all intertwined while the Tree’s story and Santa’s snooze add other layers to the magical atmosphere and also act as part of the narrative. The soundscape is completed by those who interact with it, each visitor adding to the soundscape by triggering audio.
You may have seen the videos I made where I talked a little about the prototypes I made in preparation.
The installation is spread throughout the foyer and first floor of Stratford Circus and tells the story of Santa’s Secret Snooze. Along the way, children can experience interactive elements as well as work on craft packs available for sale from the Stratford Circus box office. Over the main sound system the soundscape of the magical forest is played to set the mood.
Once you have your trail map (available for free from the box office), the experience starts with a magical tree that you can climb into. Once you climb in a motion sensor realises that you are there and then proceeds to play a story, told by the tree, about Santa’s Secret Snooze. Little people and adults (that can fit inside!) sit on comfy pillows while they listen to the tree tell his tale. Here, you can take part in some craft and post a letter to Santa.
Upstairs is where the main bulk of the installation lives along with its soundscape. Here, you can explore the magical forest, which includes the magical bench where Santa takes his secret snooze as a little break from his hectic Christmas Eve schedule. If you sit on this bench a pressure sensor realises what you have done and then starts to play the sounds of Santa having a snooze. If you sit for long enough, you may even get an insight into what the rosie-cheeked one dreams about – the snoozing is randomly peppered with Santa’s dreaming mumbles, creating a different audio experience each time. Here you can also take part in some craft and make a star decoration.
From the bench you may be able hear the noises of the wishing well, which is mentioned by the Tree in his story. If you follow the trail around to the wishing well, you will trigger another motion sensor. This motion sensor allows you to hear some of the wishes flying through the air into the wishing well. Approach the well, take a look inside and have a listen to its own magical soundscape. Here, you can make your own wish from one of the craft packs.
Interactive soundscapes for your events
The interactive aspects of this installation are totally transferable and could be used in any environment calling for an immersive experience, whether that is immersive theatre, experiential marketing or any event where information needs to be conveyed or an atmosphere heightened.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about adding interactive audio to your events.