Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Please. For the Sake of the People Around You, DO NOT be QUIET.

I stole the following quote from one of my best friend's blogs mostly because this is something I think about constantly when I am watching & or doing theatre. 

"With theater, I always, always, as an audience member, want to leap onstage and fuck things up. Just get up there and start talking to the actors. I fantasize about running up onstage and peeing on someone’s foot. It would be so amazing. It would change the play. How would they deal with me? How could I incorporate myself into the play until the authorities arrived to take me away? Honestly, it’s amazing that more people don’t actually do that. But that’s why theater is so crazy and electric—we’re all sitting there in the dark, and this story is unfolding in front of us, and if we wanted to we could get up there and fuck everything up but we don’t. We just breathe and sigh and laugh (and occasionally shout “WHO WRITES THIS STUFF??!!). And actors really do coast on audience reactions, particularly laughter—they kind of ride it like a wave. That’s so interesting to me, when that happens. And it’s all a kind of dialogue."

Annie Baker

The difference between going to the theatre & to the movies, the reason I believe you should choose to see theatre over a movie, is because it is LIVE. It is different every time it's done [however slightly] and being in the audience affects what happens on stage. Every actor will tell you, the audience changes the show. [cue power trip.]

My problem is. 

Ok. I have 2 problems.

1st is - I don't think the audience realizes this. The civilian (non-theatre making people) audience has never been taught that they are the final piece to our impossible puzzle. That there reactions, or normally lack there of, tops the proverbial theatrical sundae with the proverbial cherry. How as a theatre making community can we pass along this information to our guests, our final collaborators that, that is in fact what they are? We are all artists. Together we make a performance happen.

2nd is - At what point in our civilization did theatre become something you come to & sit through silently? As far as I know since the dawn of time theatre was an interactive story telling event. Yet, we have been trained at some point in our lives that the theatre is a place to go to be quiet. 


Why? When an actor thrives off of reaction do we quelch our natural human response to yelp, cheer or cry when we see a fellow human being experience something to which we connect. I ask again, is that not the point? To feel something. To experience humanity.  

There is something an actor gets to experience every so often if they are lucky. It's called many things but I refer to it as the 'actor's high.' It is a moment, that lasts for however long, where while on stage you experience the world as another human being. As the character you are. It is a feeling indescribable and incomparable  to any other human experience I have had to date (on drugs or otherwise). 

My dream, in the theatre that I make for you, the world, is that we can open up a similar experience to you. That the audience can once again become a part of the process. That they are able to feel & react without fear of being 'shhhhhhh-ed'. That instead of being kept outside the 4th wall your being permeates the world we've created. I want you to be the final artist. I want to give you an 'audience high.' And I want you to get addicted.


I had the privilege of seeing Mary Poppins with 2000 elementary aged children while volunteering with the Young Audience Program at the Center Theater Group. An entire audience of uninhibited minds, feelings & reactions, untainted by the social stigma of 'shhhh-ed' theatre. I did not have to be on stage to know that their influence as an audience was unmatchable. I couldn't keep my eyes from welling [nor did I want to] as I watched child after child stand up & reach toward Mary Poppins as she flew away. 

And I realized. 

Isn't that how we should leave our audiences? 



Reaching for more.

So. Do audience. Feel. Yell. Gasp. Laugh. Snort. Move. React. Be apart of it. I promise to do whatever I can in my lifetime to make sure you don't get shhhhhhhh-ed. And when you hear that girl in the back of your black box feeling [out loud] way more than 'normal.' Come say hi. It's probably me.  

1 comment:

Lucy said...

I found a show recently that I wanted to attend SO badly, but babies were not allowed! I should find some children theatre in the area. And I promise to laugh and cry if I feel moved to. XOXO