Corporate events are primarily about pleasing the client and meeting their expectations - which is as it should be. But occasionally a cornucopia of pure gold plops into our creative laps, and 360 Degrees was handed just such a horn of plenty when we were given free rein to come up with entertainment for a banking company’s Top Client function.
Megan Willson has long been fascinated by radio and its metaphysical dimensions, and she has crafted a number of artworks and scripts around this medium. This time, she decided to base her client entertainment on the scenario of a radio study where everything goes badly wrong during a live broadcast.
Was it a hard sell to the client? “Happily, they have learned to trust me,” says Megan, “after having given them a pretty wide spectrum of other successful extravaganzas, so I didn’t exactly have to fight tooth and nail to get what I wanted.”
Megan and 360’s resident writer Peter Terry (with his own history of writing comedy revue sketches) got busy stirring the comedy cauldron, and wrote the whole thing with a wish list of some of the very best comedy actors in town in their minds.
Megan says, “We created a script centred on the superstar comic talents of Michael Richard, Louise Saint-Claire, Russel Savadier, Sello Sebotsane and Jose Domingos, because they were our A-Team. And then the impossible happened... Michael, Louise, Russel, Sello and Jose all read our first draft and ALL of them wanted in. How crazy is that?”
When things go badly wrong in the studio – all the machinery melts - they desperately turn to the security guard and the cooks and bottle-washers in the canteen, to provide live jingles and music, and by sheer coincidence they just happen to be brilliant singers... which is why you make sure you employ mega-talented singers like Grant Almirall, Chris Jaftha, Caroline Borole and Tracey-Lee Oliver in your canteen.
Technically, of course, it’s a massive challenge, with old fashioned reel-to-reel tape recorders that have to explode on cue, about ten live microphones, plus individual microphones, ear-pieces for music feeds (the singing is all done a capella) studio ON AIR and OFF AIR and MUTE lights, plus any number of sound and lighting cues...
Why do we do this to ourselves? Because we love it.
Rehearsals have proved a riot of inventiveness and madness, with the creative exuberance of these incredible performers adding their own special magic to a strong script and musical choices. Some (genuine ) top names in South African music also happen along to the studio in its hour of need, and the “catastrophic” radio studio scenario is actually an excuse for a unique gathering of some of the country’s finest comedy and musical talent.