Everything Is Possible: Rules For Creating A Show
By Liam Klenk
Editors Note: As a crew member of the aquatics department, Liam participated in the creation of The House of Dancing Water, a multi-million dollar aquatic mega-show held in Macau, China directed by Franco Dragone. He reflects on Franco’s ability to challenge his team and question everything.
Franco Dragone keeps pushing the physical boundaries of the entertainment industry. He has had the courage to go where no one had gone before. He has taken risks beyond other people’s wildest dreams and has had the creative genius to boot.
Like me, Franco believed anything was possible and immediately questioned if someone told him something couldn’t be done.
During the creation of The House of Dancing Water in 2010, he spent two weeks working on a motorbike act. It was one of the only parts of our show that didn’t involve any water. It was held on a dry stage with three launch ramps and up to eight motorcycle riders, who flew through the air as if their bikes had sprouted wings.
Aiming to find the fastest transition between acts, Franco wanted to drive the two smaller ramps onto our circular stage through the narrow east and west vomitories, instead of bringing all motorbike ramps one by one through the wider north passage underneath the raised backdrop.
“Do we have enough space backstage for the ramp vehicles to turn the sharp curve onto the vomitories?” he asked his Head of Carpentry. “I wonder if this will allow us to bring them from their backstage parking spots to their stage positions in less than a minute?”
“No way. It’s too narrow,” was the instant response.
Franco kept asking.
“No. Impossible,” the Head of Carpentry insisted.
Then one day, Franco stopped asking. Instead, he walked backstage during a rehearsal break, stopwatch in hand, and approached a carpenter.
“Hey, you. Get in that truck and drive it onstage through one of the vomitories. Do it as fast as you can.”
Shocked into instant action by seeing the infamous Franco only an arm’s length away, the carpenter hustled and managed to drive the little ramp truck into its position within thirty seconds.
After the break, Franco called all technicians on stage for a meeting.
“I can’t build this show without you. In order to achieve greatness, I need you to be with me every step of the way. You’re here to make whatever I need happen. If it’s not yet possible, make it possible.”
Then he started to shout.
“I’ve been asking for days if we can bring those ramps through the vomitories. You couldn’t be bothered to try?
“I never want to hear the word ‘impossible’ again. Is that clear? Nothing is impossible. If we can’t do it one way, we find another way.”
I need positive people who can make things happen. Nothing of this magnitude has ever been done before. We’re all part of something incredible. I need you to be proactive and bold.”
I was shocked by his outburst, but couldn’t help but be inspired as well.
“Why are you still standing around here? Get back to work! And bring me those damn solutions when I ask for something.”
We all escaped from under his furious glare, almost falling over each other to get to our positions.
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