Seeing the hilarious Sammy J at Downstage last night added to a feeling that other performers have a bit to learn from comedians in terms of audience acknowledgement and presence. From Sammy's casual remark on the topic of his home renovation: "I've knocked down the fourth wall and now I've got a great view of the audience" to the almost unnoticeable "bless you" as one of us sneezed in the middle of an emotional speech - it just seemed, you know, right. As in, not a big deal. Here's to that.
Before that I'd been enjoying this clip from Sight Is The Sense That Dying People Tend To Lose First as a kind of cross between stand-up and performance art. It seems to me like a twist on the idea of the comedian in this context as a sort of educator, the one against the many, getting up and sharing with us how the world really is. And again, we've got a part to play in the performance.
In a not unrelated vein, here's a really interesting article exploring the pleasures and perils of audience interaction (as recommended by Tim), and it reminds me of some recent debates on theatreview about active audiences, and some problems we've had with our own work. Who really has the power in these situations, who's really taking the risks?
"On the Edinburgh Fringe in 2008 one company had the not-so-bright idea of making an interactive show about Auschwitz, which cast the audience as Jews being led to the gas chambers. The performers (who played the camp guards) were so hectoring and aggressive that one critic physically resisted them. After the show, artists and critic got involved in a brawl, and the show’s director was given a formal warning by the police."
And I'm sure it seemed like such a clever idea at the time...
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