Getting to Know Wake The Tiger with Summer DeanPosted on: 05 Feb 2024
Last week, we were given a sneak peek at the new Wake The Tiger expansion, a mind-bending journey beyond imagination dubbed the OUTERverse.
After we explored the magical space - unleashing our inner child in the process - we sat down with Wake The Tiger's Creative Producer, Summer Dean to talk all things OUTERverse...
How does it feel to finally be opening up the OUTERverse?
Today’s been really exciting, everyone coming in and seeing it for the first time. Obviously there is an element of nerve wrack, but it is exciting.
It’s so interesting when you’re making a thing like this because we obviously test stuff but we let people know how to interact with it, then suddenly there’s no one there to tell people how to interact with it.
People have made things that have got elements that are similar before but I think the extent of the free roam and the boundaries that we are trying to push, it’s really unique. It’s a challenge, but a fun challenge.
How is the experience of adapting a space to its visitors as well as to your vision?
There have been so many times where we have thought of but then were like ‘oh no, that won’t work’ and also things that we designed for the first phase, and then we’re like, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll do this idea for this phase’, before thinking, ‘no, we’ve learned from that, this is what people do when they’re left unattended.’
So, it’s constantly evolving and there will be stuff that we’ll notice but that’s just teething problems. There is still stuff in phase one that we’re tweaking because someone will come along and break something. You’re putting people in a highly densified space that encourages their curiosity, you don’t want to make it clinical, you want there to be detail, but there’s always one.
Looking back to when you were first thinking about the new phase, what did that process look like?
We started work on it about a year ago. We always knew we were going to expand what was already there, but it’s not until you get it up and running for eighteen months or however long it was. You’ve got to consider: what do people like? What do they not like?
The process for that was great, we have creative team meetings where we discuss what we’ve got, what are the ideas? and where can we see this going? What can we make great art and a story out of? It’s been pretty wild but in a good way.
I worked very closely with Luke, the creative director, conceptualising and coming up with the overall concepts and then working out how it might work within the space that we have. We’re big on collaborating with local artists to try and pull as many people as possible in to work with us – hopefully platforming more underground artists in the process.
It involves a lot of writing briefs for people, giving them a concept and then with all the review processes, it’s been a lot of meetings, a lot of research. There are many, many slide decks, with so many mood boards, and so much written documentation – it’s wild.
Walking around the space, it feels much more interactive. What do you think the interaction adds to the experience?
Yeah, that was something we wanted to, and we still want to, develop. So, with the first phase – not to talk it down – it was the first time we had done that kind of thing where you have a lot of small little things that you can interact with.
This time, we wanted to make it way more about generative sound, and generative light, so it’s you, as a person, interacting with the room. It’s not an individual touching a bottle, we still have some of that, sure, but we wanted to ramp up the interactivity to make people feel part of the experience, rather than being a spectator. But, as with everything, we’re always still learning, like it’s the first time we’re using VR, we’ll see how that goes.
Has the process of incorporating VR into the space been an easy thing to do?
I wouldn’t say it’s easy, it definitely has its challenges, because we might come up with a great idea for interaction and think it’s great and then you put it in front of someone, and they just don’t get it.
There’s a whole thought process that has to go into it, like how do we make this easy enough for people who don’t want a challenge, but hard enough for people so they don’t feel like it was too easy? So, in that way, it’s constantly evolving.
We have such a wide audience, right? We’re for kids, we’re for adults, we’re for adults who want to behave like kids – literally from zero to one hundred. So, how do you create meaningful interactions for people that aren’t too difficult but aren’t too easy either?
I’m hoping that people will dig it, and we’ll learn stuff; people will say, ‘That’s too easy, that’s too hard’ and we’ll continue to evolve it.
Is it hard to make sure that balance is there between the physically interactive and the virtually interactive?
Yeah, there’s all of the different interactions, then there’s also the level of detail in the art and scenery - and, bearing in mind that people can literally roam and do what they wish - it’s like being on a film set.
We have a lot of people that work here who work on film sets and TV sets and they get the insights of sometimes you’d do something and it’d be out of focus for a shot, so you just pin it or glue it up and then it comes down after a couple of hours. But we’re building a world that is permanent and people can explore as they please.
So then there are questions like ‘How do you make things durable enough?’, there are so many considerations that I had never even thought of before I worked at a permanent attraction: ‘How do you make it as durable as possible? How do we do that, but still make it sustainable?’ You can fibreglass everything but is that what we want to do? Is that the vibe we want? No, we’re more handmade, we’re more grassroots.
What’s your favourite part of the OUTERverse?
Hmm, what’s my favourite part of the OUTERverse? Honestly, the whole thing has been such an incredible journey that I love the absolute bloody lot of it. But, I will give you an answer, and that answer is…Oh, there’s just loads of little bits! It’s hard!
I’m the creative producer of the whole experience, but then I’ve also been the art lead on certain rooms as well. So, I’ve been having meetings with myself. The toy corridor with the washing machines, that’s one of mine and the IDB gate with the robot. But for me it’s seeing everyone work together, seeing the collaboration, seeing the magic that everyone can create, but then also being able to have a creative vision and make it happen.
So, with the robot, I was like: ‘I want a mannequin, it’s going to have a TV head. I’ve got these CCTV cameras, so let’s do that. So, my own spaces! But, everything’s incredible and I’ve been so involved in all of it. The fridge. Did you see the fridge? (I hadn’t and popped back in to check it out!) That’s by an artist, Alice Bradley and she made all this ridiculous food. There’s spaghetti car-bonara that’s spaghetti with cars in it and loads more – it’s inspired. Also in the kitchen, is a crawl space into the cupboard area.
Would that be your easter egg then?
I mean, I’d be surprised if you could come here and see everything. It’s not like Disneyland where you physically can’t walk around the whole space, you can, but there will always be something to find.
If we just open now and never develop it further, there would still be little bits or didn’t notice. Like the amount of people in the space also affects the lighting and the audio, so it would be different every time you come. But then, on top of that, we are developing and tweaking and making it better all the time. That’s exactly what happened with Phase One and that’s what we’ll do now.
How far do you see the project developing?
How far can you go when you’re dealing with a dimension beyond imagination? That’s the crux of it, really. How far can we push this? The OUTERverse is a big place.
We’re excited to be thinking about what might happen next. Who knows what it might be?
Wake The Tiger’s OUTERverse opens is now open to the public! Find out more and book your tickets to the world's first Amazement Park, HERE.
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Stan is a born and bred Bristolian, recently graduated from studying English Literature in Sheffield. His passions are music and literature and he spends the majority of his time in venues all over the city, immersing himself in Bristol’s alternative music scene. A lifelong Bristol City fan, Stan’s Saturdays are spent watching his team both home and away.