I’m sitting at the back of Brighton Dome, watching final preparations unfold, as the stage takes shape for TEDx tomorrow. I did help out for a bit (putting some of the hundreds of lanyards into alphabetical order) but mainly I’m just soaking up atmosphere and trying to work out how to blog all this tomorrow, in a fashion that’s informative enough to be a contribution – but doesn’t lose the vibe.
It’s fascinating being in a space like this, full of people outside their comfort zones; people who are nervous and excited; people for whom this is important and, in a small way, out-of-control. But at the same time, don’t want that to get in the way of the job they’re doing. Especially because a lot of these people running around this afternoon, both organisers and speakers, are used to their own high level of competency. These are perceptive and capable achievers, suddenly thrust into that rare situation where there’s no hiding from (or cleverly offsetting) the pressure of A Big Day.
Oddly, in that context, I almost feel like the most comfortable person in the space, since I’m so much more used to mooching around performance venues, waiting for something that will either go right or wrong and no masking it. Host Dean Atta is maybe the same, this is his home territory too as a performer.
That’s not to say it’s like the run-up to a big live gig. I think it’s closer to theatre. A show like TEDx is – to a greater extent – a collaboration between the technology and logistics and those actual ‘performers’, the speakers. A full-on stage show.
Most of all, this afternoon is enriched in colour and shifting lights. We’re full of it: bright shifting lighting from above and below; screens being moved and lit and re-lit; projected logos white against the background; the vivid slides flash up large, speakers looking upwards and outwards as they tech-run, becoming aware of the scale of their own work. That’s a precious moment I could happily encounter every day. And the team brought piles of Pret stuff over for lunch (thank god for ginger beer and carbohydrates to soak up coffee)… Ha, honestly I was about to compare this to ‘amateur dramatics’ with no sense of the pejorative but I appreciate that’s a loaded term, so not that, then.
It’s tempting to run a slide bingo. Will anyone quote Bill Hicks? How many cat pictures? Who’ll reference Malcolm Gladwell or Harry Potter? Will anyone cry, or sing?
Watch this space.