Fire & Ice—produced by iGaming PR and events specialists Lyceum Media— will be held on Wednesday, 4th of February at the Troxy 490 Commercial Road, E1 0HX, London and CalvinAyre.com, the exclusive video media partner of Fire & Ice 2015, brings you Michael Caselli’s Director’s Note.
“It’s like the offspring of a Cirque du Soleil and the city of Amsterdam, delivered on the movie-set of a Vegas night club, with all your friends there to watch the birth. There isn’t anything that I’ve ever been to that I can relate it to, other than previous Fire and Ices.” This is what Michael Caselli, publisher & editor-in-chief of Lyceum Publishing & iGaming Business, always say when people ask him, “What is Fire & Ice?”
The iGaming industry veterans know that the original Fire & Ice was the result of iGaming people not getting invited to traditional gaming parties. And because of that, 14 years ago, Jodie Thind and Michael Caselli decided to host a party for their iGaming friends who were unwelcome everywhere else.
Fire and Ice is the most “wild and extreme” event on the gaming calendar. The shows are always sexy, dangerous, provocative, and often quite psychedelic because as a young entrepreneurial industry 14 years ago, like iGaming, it didn’t have a roadmap; it didn’t conform to any pre-made conventions. The event was and is a reflection of that same iGaming spirit that brought gaming into the digital age.
“Fire & Ice is a reaction to a uniquely inspired group of people in a very special time in history – where ecommerce, and the internet itself, was a mystery just taking form – in a digital universe that required everyone in it to forge their own path,” said Caselli.
“But what makes the show such a unique event is that you can’t buy something like Fire & Ice. There is no performance group you can go to, pay and get an event like this. And only a few of Jodie and my closest friends know how much work it is to put on. It is, and it must be, a labor of love… an artistic outlet for a couple of people that somehow just need to do it… because if you were to judge it in time, effort, dollars and cents, it would never calculate as a profitable or even a sane and rational enterprise.”
The Beginning of the Fire and Ice Journey
“For me, Fire & Ice generally starts on the flight to g2e in Las Vegas. That’s the nine and a half hour stretch that I dedicate to fantasizing about the next show. I bring a Tin of caviar from the airport duty free, and eat it accompanied with chilled vodka shots- in the Russian style- and vodka, by the way, is the one liquor that I can’t handle. Usually by the end of the flight I have a notebook full of ideas – the nexus of the show, and a very foggy head.
Over the months that follow, the script gets refined to a point where I need to source acts that fit the script, the theme, the style and most importantly, the spirit of the event- by which I mean that they can create the emotional journey for the audience that will deliver the right social dynamics, the right emotional states, and the same sense of industry camaraderie and solidarity that Fire & Ice has always been about. What then ensues is a couple of months attending live performances, watching performances on you tube, discussing performances, watching street theatre and downloading programs like Britain’s got talent. Without fail, by the end of this process I have identified at least two-dozen performance artists that we will use in the show…and all that brings us to this year’s event, The Reign of Queen Vic.”
This year’s Fire and Ice, 70 actors’ act have been scripted, scored, rehearsed and coordinated into a single troupe that convey the theme and storyline of the show—the life and times of Victorian Britain.
“The trick to something like that is creating the best party ever held in the Victorian era- not a party about the Victorian era… I have to deliver something that could have existed in a Utopian, yet paralleled universe, Victorian England.”
In The Reign of Queen Vic, the hosts followed a Fire & Ice formula that creates an audience goal of the audience journey, the storyline that holds as much meaning to the societal representation of iGaming as it does for the social portrayal of the Victorians.
“In Act One, we try and break the audience from everyday reality…to shock them out of the reality of the conference and everything else, despite them only having had perhaps one or two drinks by this point. That’s not easy to do- but it’s absolutely vital to create the suspension of disbelief that they will need to become fully immersed in the event.
“Next we take the audience further, after they are 3-4 drinks in, by doing the seemingly impossible on stage. It must be beautifully presented, and engage the audience emotionally – which this year is through a rather frightening act. Act two should leave many feeling a mild trepidation – and that will hopefully coax the audience to bond and be invested in the show’s resolution.
“After all that emotion, we provide release- this year through beauty. The trepidation disappears, and I hope to leave the audience slightly overwhelmed by what they see on the stage. I can remember this phase of the emotional journey in the 2014 and I remember how I felt, sitting there and thinking that I was watching something that was truly beautiful…
“Finally, Act 4 – now, many drinks in, and having travelled down an emotional pathway, we get to the finale. Which this year, is where we really unleash the risqué theatre that Fire & Ice is known for. It really kicks off – and with everyone several drinks deep, everyone watching is wanting it.
“In The Reign of Queen Vic, Act 4 casts aside Victorian sensibilities and gives in to the raw desires and emotions that made the luminaries of the age the scandalous heroes and heroines that reflected the hidden desires of a people repressed. In Act 4, the societal image disintegrates, and the Victorians are reflected by their normally hidden underlying nature… their Jekyll and Hyde.
When Caselli was researching Victorian England, he found that time as relatively dull on the surface, with everyone trying to be as reserved as their Queen. But when he looked deeper, he discovered and earthier Victorian England— far from the throne room— that was dirty and base, one of opium and absinthe ruled nights.
“One of industrial revolution that moved faster than the people in it. One not unlike the Internet age. In the words of Dickens “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times… A spring of hope and a winter of despair… we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period…
“Like the present period… I reflect our own time, and my time in iGaming, our own journey. Albeit we never put on airs, but we exist as an industry that the masses desperately want, but those politicians feel won’t win them votes. An industry that satisfies desires that are universal, yet are often repressed… The Reign of Queen Vic reflects the repression of desire in the Victorian age, but it reflects equally the same hypocrisies that are evaporating slowly, but still exist about the gaming industry. As the Victorian gave way to liberalism that better reflected the nature of people, gambling is going through a similar journey…but, like for the Victorians, it’s frustrating for those living through it, to be patient enough for nature to win over pretense.
“Maybe it is the risqué, the not spoken about, the pushing the envelope themes, that are ever-present in Fire & Ice that make up the spirit that I referred to earlier. Maybe through the party, we remember to push the boundaries as we did when the world was first going online.”
After five months of constant work, Fire & Ice will be performed for a night and only for one audience—an audience of friends.
“It’s never recreated and it’s never the same.
“Counting the hours, the effort, and the emotion that goes into it; it never breaks even on the balance sheet but for Jodie and I, it’s cathartic, it’s a challenge, it’s a creative outlet that lets us express a side that we wouldn’t be able to without it.
“Seeing it become real and seeing the joy, excitement, and exhilaration in our friends faces as they enjoy, with us, the best night of our year, makes it somehow and immeasurably the most rewarding venture we undertake… As said in Victorian times, ‘Forever is composed of nows.’
“Thank you (from Jodie and I) to everyone that enjoys Fire & Ice—as you make our forever.”