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.