Archive for August, 2011

The Audience Agenda

Posted in interactive work, journalism, new writing on August 22, 2011 by danbaker83

Although I’ve yet to trek north of the border myself, one of the apparent talking points of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe seems to be regarding Ontroerend Goed’s Audience, and its treatment of audience members as participants.  As divisive as the show is (Laura Barnett hated it; Philip Fisher implores you all to see it), this direct engagement with audiences reflects a growing trend in performance to do away with the fourth wall and to challenge audiences to become directly engaged in what is played out in front of them.

Stories emerging from Edinburgh tell of audience members shouting and swearing at the actor involved in the systematically bullying of a young girl singled out in the audience (genuine or plant? – there are conflicting stories), where the actions stir them from being passive and independent to becoming connected and supportive of their fellow patrons; even after being reminded of the ‘rules’ of being a theatre audience in the opening minutes of the piece, they have in fact been drawn into breaking them.  The methods are crude and justifiably perceived by many as unacceptable, but the perceived notion of what is acceptable behaviour for an audience has been subverted for the purpose of this performance.

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How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Riots?

Posted in Uncategorized on August 11, 2011 by danbaker83

Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand this past week, you’ll know that Britain is in the midst of serious civil unrest – after the first clashes in Tottenham following the death of Mark Duggan, we’ve seen rioting and looting spread across the capital and now in cities across the land.  Whilst judgements, accusations and recriminations fly about like a brick through a shop window, we’ve seen communities come together to take action and ‘reclaim the streets’ – from the stories of Turkish shop owners protecting their property in Dalston to the mass clean-up in Clapham, we’re seeing the kind of action which David Cameron could only dream of his Big Society replicating.  So, what can the arts do to help in such situations?

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Beached – A PR Disaster

Posted in blogging, journalism, producing on August 2, 2011 by danbaker83

The recent furore over Opera North’s proposed cancellation of Lee Hall’s Beached – provoking allegations of homophobia against the local education authority – has now seemingly died down, with the show now set to go ahead after an uneasy truce has been called between all parties.  However, the way in which the story broke and developed sheds a great deal of light on how PR works within the arts.

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