Access catches up with Romain Pissenem, founder, creative director and producer at High Scream and the man behind the production of ANTS, an Ibiza dance spectacle that takes inspiration from underground, and the Underground
What inspired the concept for ANTS?
We were inspired by underground music, and the idea of an underground colony of ants seemed to fit the vision. We wanted to take the stage design to an extreme, and worked around the idea of the stage being a giant ant hill.
What are the key design features?
We used AV to create a giant ant walking over the crowd. The first year was spent perfecting the design, which would feature a giant metallic, electronic ant. I wanted to build on this, and got inspired by a picture of the Tube in Piccadilly and started thinking about the concept of the London Underground, and how it was a akin to the ant world. The idea took further shape when I re-watched Fritz Lang’s iconic film, Metropolis. I wanted to create a crazy entrance to the event that made audiences imagine they were going into a new world. I love the film Metropolis. It’s is truly visionary for its time, and it has a lot of parallels with today’s world.
Did you use any technology to help the build and design process?
Yes, my company in London, High Scream, was already experimenting with VR and 3D, and that allowed us to create immersive visual models of the entire space. Doing this allowed us to spot what was needed to improve the overall design and safety of the build. Meanwhile, the creation of the ANTS characters employed actors in Lycra suits shot on a green screen to aid the visual element of the set.
Were there logistical restrictions to this?
Yes, the show is held in a hotel, and must be put up in three hours, then dismantled and cleaned by 11am the next morning so that people can enjoy the pool. I’m very proud of the décor, and this year, it looks exactly how I had imagined it.
How did you get started in the business?
I am 41, and started when I was 17. At school in France, I fell for a pretty girl in my class, and was happy to see she had joined the same International Theatre class as me. I tried to talk to her during the lesson, but the teacher interrupted and so I said I was here to train to produce a show. The teacher said to come and talk to her at the end of the lesson, and she promised to give me access to a hall she used for a local fete for one event. And it went from there.
Was there a lot of pressure to get this right with such a big investment of time and money?
For sure, but I had a good feeling about it. You get a good instinct for what works after producing over 400 shows. You have a gut feeling, and you go with that. We do seven ANTS shows a week, and they’re all different – each night is like a new chapter in a book.