The simple challenge for The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Pennsylvania: convey the sheer excitement and magic of live performances. Magic so powerful that it can change your life.
A performance can be a revelation.
In speaking to dozens of people for this project we heard over and over again about witnessing or participating in a performance changed their understanding of other people, changed their feelings, revealed a new way to be in the world, opened up their hearts, moved their life in a new direction.
It was electrifying to hear one woman’s story of witnessing Liv Ullman’s American debut in A Doll’s House at Annenberg before the show went to Broadway. As she talked about that night her expression shifted, her voice became stronger, her posture changed. Through the simple act of retelling her story the magic was returning, the immediacy of the moment, she was under the spell again. And she brought us under it too.
The Annenberg Center had it’s story. Our role at Verse Group was to give it shape, to provide a strategic framework for all of the individual stories that can be told by each person in the audience, each performer, each person whose life was touched in one way or another by their experience at the Center. It is more than a center of performances, more than a center of theaters, more than a center for events, meetings, gatherings. It is a center of excitement, a center of revelation, a center of magic. It is Annenberg Center Live.
The team at Annenberg Center knew they need to do more than put the brand story into words and designs. Together we conducted hands-on workshops with the professionals and volunteers at Annenberg Center to define Excitement Annenberg-style. Each and every person has an important role in delivering that excitement. They aren’t just putting on a good show. They are transforming lives.
Okay, one last story of the transformative power of performance, though this one took place about a year and half ago in New York City.
Can a single theater performance can save an innocent person from execution?
I was present at an extraordinary amateur performance, a staged reading, really, of “The Exonerated”, a play based on actual transcripts from 6 death row inmates who later were found innocent. What made this one evening so extraordinary was the fact that the amateur actors were in real life federal judges, prosectuors and defense attorneys performing in an off, off Broadway theater space for a group of their peers. No famous actors. It was not directed by Bob Biloban (who directed the original New York and London productions). There was powerful magic on that small stage and in the audience as these legal professionals read from their scripts, a judge taking on the role of a exonerated man, a defense attorney as judge, a prosecutor in the role of a defendant being sentenced to death.
Go to Annenberg Center Live. See a performance. Make a donation. Make a difference in someone’s life.