The Audience Has Five Senses. Why Not Use Them All?

I love this: London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks show this year was aimed at all five senses.

When I was in first grade, the teacher brought in a little popcorn maker to explain the five senses to us: We could see the popcorn pop; we could hear the kernels explode; we could smell the delicious, buttery smell as it heated up; we could feel the bumpy kernels when they finished popping; and, of course, we could taste the popcorn when it was ready!

Smellovision and other failed experiments in bringing more senses into the show-going experience provide some good material for jokes, but there could be real potential in them. It’s striking that the fireworks show wasn’t designed by pyrotechnics experts (I’m sure they were involved), but by food designers, Sam Bompas and Harry Parr. Banana confetti, orange-flavored bubbles, peach snow and more integrations of smell and taste were part of the show.

This isn’t completely foreign to the world of live entertainment. Slava’s Snowshow is one of my favorite all-time things, and the audience gets covered in cobwebs, has a confetti storm blown at it and plays with enormous inflatable balls, but it doesn’t have taste or smell. I think it’s amazing that my first grade popcorn lesson stuck so well, and, like most of  you, all I have to do is get a whiff of a certain smell, and I’m transported back in time and place. That vaguely diesel smell that you get in a subway takes me back to the Boston T in 1986 almost instantly.

Randy Weiner, Shane Scheel, are either of you on this? Am I crazy?


Homepage Photo Credit: “Lord Mayor’s Show 2013 Fireworks,” © 2013 Michael Garnett, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license.

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