Honour Your Error As A Hidden Intention - Fireraisers AD blogs about happy accidents

Honour Your Error As A Hidden Intention - Fireraisers AD blogs about happy accidents

“Honour your error as a hidden intention.” Brian Eno. This quote was told to me some years ago by Fireraisers’ then joint Artistic Director, Anton Binder: it’s stuck.

Whatever you expect to happen…something else will. This is a good rule of thumb for live events – and probably, for life. Making a theatre show, a music gig, a photograph relies on being able to embrace spontaneity and make it up as you go along, if necessary. This can, if you’re lucky, lead to magic.

Obviously, it can also lead to disaster. I try not to dwell on the time I accidentally set fire to a bin in Brighton’s Zap Club and their alarm system alerted the fire brigade who arrived en masse. Or the time we allowed set builders for our giant beach show, This Rough Magic, to get so tanked up on our partner, Red Bull’s product that they fought each other with scaffolding poles. During woodland show Things That Go Bump, our Chief Exec Nick having to jump in to a lake, to retrieve the props local youths had chucked in there, was also not really a high point. Lessons were learned!

But sometimes, mistakes can work for you. At the photoshoot for our new show, Amazing Madame Midnight, for instance, we’d failed to realise the wind had changed direction – and as I lit the marine distress flare, the smoke hit me full force in the face. It wasn’t pleasant, and I had a hard time not just grimacing throughout every pic. But when we looked at the shots…the smoke had created this gorgeous dragon behind me. It’s one of my favourite shots ever.

Is there a time when a mistake has worked out in YOUR favour? Perhaps next time something goes wrong, you might want to think whether it’s a nudge towards something better.

If you want some more creative prompts, especially good if you’re stuck on something, Brian Eno invented other Oblique Strategies (which you used to be able to get as physical cards, and now can be found pinned to the top of Eno’s Twitter @dark_shark . Each card offers a challenging constraint intended to help artists (particularly musicians) break creative blocks by encouraging lateral thinking. Here are some samples…

  • Use an old idea.
  • State the problem in words as clearly as possible.
  • Only one element of each kind.
  • What would your closest friend do?
  • What to increase? What to reduce?
  • Are there sections? Consider transitions.
  • Try faking it!
  • Honour thy error as a hidden intention.
  • Ask your body.
  • Work at a different speed.
  • Gardening not Architecture.

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Photo credit: Khobir Wiseman-Goldstein