Bringing a touch of theatre into your workplace…

Creative Shift’s Helga Henry is our guest blogger this week.  She writes about what businesses can learn from One Man, Two Guvnors currently running at the Hippodrome until Saturday…

Helga Henry

Helga Henry

The second UK tour of the National Theatre’s One Man, Two Guvnors hit the stage this week. The show is a joyous few hours of theatre where the audience laugh, cheer and clap at the hapless hero Francis Henshall as he ineptly juggles the demands of two separate employers who are, unbeknown to Francis, actually lovers in disguise fleeing the scene of a crime.

The business lessons in One Man, Two Guvnors for this month’s Box Seat Business School from Creative Shift, however, are not going to be about HR practices but rather the act of creating the show itself and what a massive business success it has been for the National Theatre. Following its initial run at the Lyttleton Theatre, the show transferred to London, and then was re-staged for an award-winning run on Broadway.

The work, as theatre scholars amongst you may know, is based on the structures characters and tropes of 17th century Italian drama commedia del’arte. The playwright Richard Bean has taken all the elements from Carlo Goldoni’s original play and cleverly updated them, repackaging them to provide a new performance that builds on the old, and making the play more palatable for a modern mainstream audience. Here are three lessons that we can learn in business from this wildly successful revival.

1. What old products or services do you have in stock, reports sitting on a hard drive, or information in a desk drawer that you can update and make relevant to your customers today?

Gavin Spokes as Francis Henshall

Gavin Spokes as Francis Henshall

One Man, Two Guvnors takes a relatively obscure Italian drama and places it in a new context. In fact trying to convey the original play in this way made the writer Richard Bean come up with some novel plot twists and aspects of the production that make it so popular in its new form. (For more information about this the learning pack from the National Theatre is very informative – click here to take a look). If you think about some of the challenges of updating a tired product or service and making it more relevant you may not end up reviving it and making it re-saleable, but you gain insights and improvements that you can apply to your current offer.

2.  How can I involve my customer more in the delivery of my products or services?

The flustered Henshall, at points in the play, seeks the help of audience members to lift luggage or look after things for him with hilarious results. While we are not advocating that customers should do your work for you, is there any way in which you can seek feedback on their opinion or meet their needs more closely by involving them earlier on in the process of creating or tailoring your goods and services?

3. Does your business send your customers away with a song in their heart and a spring in their step?

Music plays a huge role in One Man, Two Guvnors. The skiffle band which plays before the show and in the intermission, the various music-hall style “turns” where cast members sing and perform novelty instruments, and the hugely upbeat song at the end “Tomorrow Looks Good from Here” create a joyful atmosphere and ensure that everyone leaves the theatre in a good mood. Psychology studies have shown that we are most influenced by our first interaction with something (primacy) and our last (recency). Be honest – does your customer service deserve a standing ovation every time? Are your customers leaving your business with that same feel-good factor?

Repackaging, customer involvement and feel-good service have not just made this show a great night out, they have also created a massive business success for the National Theatre even in recessionary times – which has got to be something to sing about!

Taking inspiration from the world of the arts and applying lessons from it in order to improve business performance is what Creative Shift loves to do. If this article has inspired you to find out more please check out, look at our clients and case studies here or call me on 0121 689 1051.

One Man Two Guvnors runs until Saturday 31st May click here for further information.

Birmingham gets with The Craze…

Press & PR Assistant, Ben Wooldridge (@benwooldridge) writes…

Yesterday, Swingin’ 60’s on-stage band The Craze from the National Theatre’s hit production of One Man, Two Guvnors treated the streets of Birmingham outside the theatre to a busking session full of songs from the show and plenty of 1960’s style.

Donned in swanky 1960’s gear, The Craze played their one and only Birmingham busking gig for the general public in the shadow of the theatre decked out in it’s huge promotional banner for the production.

The Craze play a pivotal role in the production, providing original musical interludes on stage full of nostalgic, foot-tapping melodies plus plenty of comic intervention from the principal cast.

One Man, Two Guvnors is a hilarious, non-stop comic romp celebrating the best of British comedy with satire, songs, slapstick and glittering one-liners – we have been amazed by the incredible feedback from our audiences over the past few nights, click here to read the buzz about the show on Twitter.

Take a look at pictures from yesterday’s event below and find out more about the production here.



Behind the scenes at the National Theatre…

Press & PR Assistant, Ben Wooldridge (@benwooldridge) writes…

A couple of weeks ago I took a trip down to the big smoke along with a journalist from the local media to take a peek at rehearsals for One Man, Two Guvnors.

The National Theatre, sitting pretty on London’s Southbank, is a gargantuan building made up of a jigsaw of concrete blocks that rise high at the side of the Thames just a short walk down from landmarks such as the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament. As you proceed through Stage Door (where the likes of Dame Judi Dench, Laurence Olivier, Sir Ian McKellen, John Gielgud and Maggie Smith have checked in and out of this famous building) the place opens up into a labyrinth of corridors and rehearsal rooms where creatives beaver away creating the theatre of the future.

We headed into Rehearsal Room 1, where the cast were assembled for another day of practise, starting with a tongue-twisting vocal warm up. Shortly after a few interviews, they cracked on with the precise timing and blocking that a comic production requires, each move timed to the exact millisecond.

This fantastic cast includes Shaun Williamson, who you will probably know as Barry from Eastenders, Emma Barton, who is also a recognisable face from Albert Square, and Gavin Spokes who played the central role of Francis Henshall in the West End.

Our National Theatre creates Drama and Theatre at it’s best, and One Man, Two Guvnors is a prime example of some of it’s best output in recent years. Take my word for it and don’t miss it here in Birmingham, your tummy will be aching from the belly laughs for a long while after…click here for more info and tickets.


Take a look at the gallery below for rehearsal shots: