Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Audience Agency in ‘Political’ Theatre in Rehearsal and Performance

Tom Ross-Williams: (Populace theatre)
Becki Hillman: (In Good Company)

Participants: Tom Brocklehurst, John Ward, Susana Davis Cook, Rod Dixon, Christina Caralina, Nicola Sianhope, Fran Hyde, Eve Leigh, Lauren Cooney, Emma Callander…
Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Questions/provocations/models of practice/thoughts relating to the group discussion:

-       come to me with a solution, not a problem
-       how do giving answers/asking questions lead to political agency in performance?
-       positivity/negativity for politicisation in performance
-       the efficacy of ownership/belonging for a theatre of action
-       Theatre Uncut and David Greig: his short play last year needing audience to participate – and empowering model? (Engendered emotional responses from audience members who empathised with what was going on and had to perform role-play)… …(but is an audience reading from a script in unison always empowering?)
-       Third Ring Out (performance) – educative, gaming model of performance, which began anonymously but became more involved/actively engaged
-       An invitation to become active/the active engagement of the audience must not lead to nowhere! (Where can it lead? – into other actions/networks/practices/social movements or groups? Into further productions? – how can we facilitate further engagement, what obstacles might we encounter as practitioners and how might we overcome them??)
-       Collective identity feels safer for an audience to practice agency (builds confidence). How can we engender this in rehearsal/performance? By splitting people into groups? Inviting them to socialise? Involving them in process……..
-       Is the word ‘political’ a turn off to theatre audiences (and what audiences do we want to politicize?) Is it unsexy/not escapist enough?...Automatically unpopular? Or is this relative to historical/political/economic contexts? Where is it sexy/popular? (Scotland? Other…?)
-       OR reclaim the word ‘political’???
-       Is being told something or being preached at always something we shy away from or do we accept it in contexts that aren’t ‘political’?
-       Is theatre encountering its biggest period of ‘formal explosion’?!

There’s much more but I am running out of time!....... thanks to tom and participants for great discussion! Becki

-       Donation  only political theatre
-       Don’t turn the lights out on the audience
-       Giving people a shared experience
-       But give audience a  role in political theatre is important
-       Leave a show feeling galvanised rather than  pacified
-       The power of obstruction – audience unified by having to solve a problem  of sharing a tight space
-       Encouraging audiences to be disobedient
-       Audience  - Soho Theatre  (manipulated  but disempowered?)
-       Nature of the offer given to the audience
o   If we are told what to think do we turn off?         
o   Demanding to share viewpoints  to incite reactionary thinking/action
-       Connect  audience to tangible  stories rather than abstract ideas
o   Like the demolition of local building
o   Localised is political theatre
-       We can learn from other forms – circus/stand-up/dance
-       7:84 Black Black Oil
-       What is your language
o   Political issue explored through a ceilidh
-       Shalom Baby – political  moment a gay kiss in Stratford East
-       “Be the change you want to see in the world”
Leave the theatre with the world “yes!”

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