Is humour the best way to engage an audience?
Pico Play’s vibrant Creative Director, Mark Eady, has spent his career as an actor, stunt performer, writer, producer and storyteller within the entertainment and attraction industries both in Australia and overseas. His lifework has been centred around the power to engage audiences through storytelling.
Mark gives us some insight into his creative process, how staring at a blank wall sparks his imagination and how to best to engage an audience in a challenging theme park setting.
Mark, tell us a little about why you were drawn to be an actor?
I hope this comes out the right way, but the power an actor feels on stage when he can manipulate and control the emotions of hundreds of people is intoxicating. An audience laughing gives you forever to think about what you’ll say next.
How many live shows have you performed in your career?
I wish I could tell you. I performed in over 8000 performances of a show called “Police Academy Stunt Show” at Movie World on the Gold Coast between 1994 and 2000. Between 3 and 7 shows per day with an audience size up to 2000. I can’t imagine how many people saw it! I always think back to my experiences as a performer when creating shows now.
What do you love most about the theme park industry?
By default, it’s an industry designed around fun, entertainment and creating special memories with family and friends. Other industries try to replicate what we have into their brands.
Can you explain more about your ‘blank wall’ creative process?
I thought I was the only one but when I first started working with Greg Holt, our Creative Director and Head of Design, we realised that we both stare at walls when developing an idea (to think about the audience). It’s like we picture the creative pathway on the blank wall, like a maze, come to a dead-end or two, (thinking about the audience still) go back, keep what is good, delete what is not and take another pathway (think about the audience some more) and steadily working towards the end goal (still thinking about the audience). In other words, making the strongest choices that will engage the audience.
Is comedy one of the most powerful ways to engage guests?
When it comes to live shows and immersive entertaining environments – definitely. I’ve seen guests come back to see a show dozens of times because of how much they laughed. Here’s the thing, you can only tell a joke once…but still, they came back and laughed again!
Tell us why live performance is imperative to add diversity to the guest experiences.
There is a lot of focus today on guest interaction which is great. But it’s important, I think, that we give guests the opportunity to do nothing and just enjoy the show.
How do you best involve your audience in the entertainment offering?
I always try to get the audience to invest into the story by wanting to know what happens next and feel empathy with characters.
Dedicated entertainment show vs. spontaneous?
I have always hated arriving to the cinema late and missing the beginning of a film. So for me, a dedicated live show gives guests some place to be at a designated time to take it all in and not miss the start. But that’s just me, my ex was quite happy to miss the start…grrr!
About Mark Eady, Creative Director at Pico Play
Growing up, all Mark ever wanted to do was entertain. His early career as an actor gave him a natural understanding of what audiences want, an insight he has brought to his later career as a producer, director and creator of shows and themed attractions. He is a generous mentor and educator and adept at motivating, empowering and engaging multiple stakeholders. Mark is a talented and imaginative writer, a resourceful producer and manager and Pico Play’s expert at bringing the page to the stage.