Picture the scene. You’ve just realised that you are going to set up your company and make it into an organization that tells stories through the power of events. You give it an awesome name, called We Are Parable, which instantly gets people talking and asking questions, which is, when you start a new venture, exactly what you want.
Company Objective? Check. Name? Check. Mission Statement? Check.
You’ve then got to think of your first event.
Clearly, I’m talking about the dilemma that me and Teanne found ourselves in at the start of the year. What was going to be our first event? We kept on asking each other over and over again. We knew it had to be innovative, original, and give people a really good insight into what We Are Parable are all about.
As we create events that are centered on our passions, we were thinking how we could bring a game changing event to the world of fashion, art, music or…film.
“How about a floating cinema?” Teanne suggested.
At that time, I said, “Let’s screen Coming To America. I’m sure it’s been out for 25 years now.”
“Yes!” She said.
We wanted to verify that it was in fact a quarter of century passing since the classic tale of a Zamundan prince finding his bride in New York City first hit cinemas – we rushed to find the DVD, turned it over, and there it was:
Our minds were made up. We were doing this.
We then spent the rest of the night jabbering like monkeys about what we could do to make it a truly unique experience for cinema goers. And that’s when we thought about having rosebearers adorning our guests in the finest African flowers, African drum rhythms meeting our guests as well as an African market stall selling the best arts and crafts Zamunda had to offer.
Why did we want to do this?
Look, we’re eighties babies. The pair of us. Our first recollection of this film was watching it late night on BBC 1 with all the good bits (swearing and cussing) taken out. But even then, we would still go around reciting “Sexual Chocolate!” and singing “Just let your soul glo” at the top of our voices. And although we’re not kids anymore, that film has a massive place in our hearts, to this very day. It’s one of those movies you watch and you know you’re going to have a good time. Well, we wanted to replicate that feeling and let it spill out into an experience that shows the love we have for the film. By doing something different and giving our audience an authentic narrative experience, we were hoping to reconnect their experiences of the film with our own.
We spoke with PictureHouse in Stratford, East London, and immediately they bought into our night. “Coming To America is 25” was happening!
Fast forward three months, and as I write this, it’s been a few days since our sold out Coming To America is 25 event actually happened.
The day itself was a huge melting pot of excitement, nerves and energy that combined well, ensuring that our visitors were overwhelmed when they walked up to the cinema.
As you arrived to Picturehouse, you were greeted by tribal drums beating away as the hazy sun rolled down, giving the feeling that you really weren’t in East London about to “Just watch a film”. Mix that with our beautiful, authentic rosebearers who made you feel like royalty by welcoming you into the venue with a light dusting of petals, and you were pretty much being transferred to Zamunda before you even walked up to the auditorium.
In the foyer, we had a total of 16 (yep, SIXTEEN) stall holders who sold a selection of gift cards, magazines, accessories, clothing and books with an afro centric perspective which served only to stir up your senses and create an experience never before witnessed in a cinema.
The opportunity was there to create a small art exhibition which would highlight work from afro-caribbean artists whose work was influenced from the African dispora, encouraging art lovers to engage with these pieces.
We had the most fun developing themed cocktails around Coming To America and came up with some pretty unique names as you can see below:
As I said above, this event was completely sold out. In fact, the minute I put the sign up saying there were no more tickets I had at least 10 people come up to me saying they were gutted not to able to join in the experience.
With about five minutes to go before “showtime”, we took the picture you see below. After a few seconds of taking, it, me and Teanne looked at each other with our mouths wide open. We did this.
But the experience was far from over. We had two exceptional performances, the first from a fantastic group called AQ Arts who created a routine especially for us called “Bearer of the Rose”, the story of Akeem’s quest to find his own way and find a bride.
Also, we were privileged to have The Venus Bushfires perform. A one woman singer and instrumentalist, she wowed the audience with her haunting lyrics and layered, textured sounds.
Just to think – we only charged a little over 6 pounds for a ticket – that’s a lot of experience for your buck.
What did people think? They thought it was great. I heard someone say “To be fair, I’m loving this.” And despite the fact me and Teanne were running around like headless chickens, it’s this comment that really sticks with me.
We can develop all of the innovative experiential solutions in the world, but if our audience are not responding and reacting, then it’s not right. So many people asked us when our next event is going to be , and again that makes me proud.
This is the first time that I can honestly say that working has not felt like “work”. I feel like this is where Teanne and me need to be, and as long as we follow our passions, we’ll have a lot more stories that are just waiting to be told.
Til next time, Later…
Anthony and Teanne
For more pictures of our night, make sure you follow us on twitter (@weareparable) or search “We Are Parable” on Facebook.
We’d like to thank a few people, as without their help, Coming To America wouldn’t have happened:
Estella @ Stratford Picture House
Lyanta Callender, Graphic Designer Guru
The Venus Bushfires
Our wonderful Rosebearers, Rosemary Chileshe, Nadine Mendes, Cecile Helen Luboko
Our Drummers, Tafadzwa and Cameron
Sombo Darkowah, stylist to our rosebearers
Angela Dennis our official photographer
Kickin’ it with the Kinks our videographers
Our Artists (Skone Designs, Onyinye Draws, Cezanne and Twin Soul Creations) who lent their work to display at Stratford Picture House (Which, if you’re in London, you can still see until the middle of July)
The Voice, Newham Recorder, East London Advertiser newspaper for spreading the word
All of our followers and likers on Twitter and Facebook, word of mouth played a big part in the success of this event, so thank you so much…keep your eyes and ears peeled for more information.