Wednesday, 23 June 2010

How far can an audience member perform?

I went to go and see Jane Munro's piece; Invitations, last night. Which came at a great time within our company's process, as we were reaching the topic of 'how do we as performers interact physically with an audience member?'

The piece consisted of two performers entering and re-entering the space that the audience created within the round setting. Presenting themselves in a prominent stance which was effected by each different style of clothing they wore (Period dress, running gear and bare minimals).
Turning/ walking around in the circle space they engaged strong eye contact with each member of the audience, before 'selecting' one spectator. They approached that one person and invited them (through their gestures and movements alone) to perform/ dance/ move with them in the space, before returning them back to their original seat.

I was lucky enough to be invited to move with the performer, in which I realised the strength in setting up eye contact, from a distance, the subtle approach towards the spectator, then the 'invitation' of the hand/ the kneel down beside them. Continuing this through whilst in the dance/movement the contact between the two people was still connected and strong.

I felt very much safe and unembarrassed whilst I was experiencing this moment (even though I was the first participant) as I felt the connection I had with the performer was the only element that mattered. Even though I didn't know the 'steps' of the dance, I was allowed to be easily guided through the space without hesitation.

Watching back from the outside, I observed the levels in which the performers were pushing with the individual spectators, and even guided one person to lie on the floor, so that the performer was comfortable enough to lie on top of them. Which I thought was extraordinary that this progression of trust and (in a way) manipulation allowed itself to emerge in such a small space of time. Through the performance the boundaries of who lead who started to blur, with a spectator choosing different options and the performer following and vice-versa, was lovely to watch unfold.

Though unfortunately one feeling I expressed to Jane afterwards, was at the moment I had my 'scene' with the performer, and every time they re-entered the space to chose another spectator, I felt his gaze brush over me, with the feeling that; 'he had already engaged with me, and therefore wouldn't be able to react with again'. Which I felt slightly lost, because I felt the relationship we had previously established was then lost.

From seeing this performance it was clear to see the importance of how you establish and build up trust between the performer and spectator. By not rushing straight to them to physically shake their hand or immediately touch them. But by finding that true connection first, establishing simple eye contact, then from their you have captured their attention and trust. (Well in my personal case that was true). Through this idea of stages and levels of trust, then I feel it could be quite possible to guide the audience to doing anything you wanted through a performance.

1 comment:

  1. Yes I think Jane's piece was a real example of how to give an audience an experience in an immersive piece rather than them simply being an accessory to the performance. I think your right in that the performers were inviting and at the same time they were not over sensitive in that they were able to move us around in a way that produced a sensation thus giving us an experience, as if we ourselves were dancers. The piece has really made me rethink about immersive work. I would love to see it done with a non-theatre going audience.