About This Blog

I really like theatre, and I like writing and talking about it.

This blog is mostly about my relationship with theatre, the moments that make me fall in love with this art form, and the times when we don't always get along.

I'll be writing about things that I like, that I think are good and interesting and want to share. I will probably also write about things that I don't quite get, or think are wierd. I may also write about things that aren't theatre, strictly speaking, because it's my blog and I can.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On The Fear of Audience Participation

My roommate recently shared this article with me: http://www.theonion.com/articles/oh-no-performers-coming-into-audience,2685/

Which I responded to with this: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/07/theater-talkback-from-seat-to-stage/#more-133519

As a performer, I like to stay firmly nestled behind the fourth wall. I've certainly done my fair share of audience-participation performance, especially in children's theatre, and it's very risky. Kids will grab the show and run off with it if you let them. Adults often feel uncomfortable, and won't give you much of a response at all.

As a theatregoer I'm not really a fan of audience participation, especially when it's unexpected. I don't want to have to be "on" when I'm unprepared. I feel obligated to entertain the rest of the audience, and I'm afraid I'll never come up with a clever enough reponse, but there's also a little voice inside me that wants to tell the performers "it's ok, I get it! I'm one of you!"

And then there's the moments when you have no idea whether the performers actually want you to respond or not. I was thinking of this while watching a performance of The Magic Flute, in the scene where Papageno decides to kill himself if no one will offer their love, and counts to three, then waits for a response. What would he do if someone actually said something? Not a lot of room for improv in opera, the scores are kind of set in stone.

But I think the thing that makes me most uncomfortable is getting something different from what you expected; like getting Coke when you ordered Dr. Pepper. It just jars you. If I know audience participation will be involved, I can prepare myself emotionally. If I'm anticipating sitting back and observing, I don't like being pulled out of that.

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