Archive for the interactive work Category

You Me Bum Bum Train – a bum deal for performers?

Posted in artist development, blogging, interactive work, producing on July 31, 2012 by danbaker83

Upon its return to the London scene as part of the London 2012 festival, You Me Bum Bum Train has again found itself being questioned about its reliance on large numbers of unpaid volunteers.  According to The Guardian, Equity is considering taking legal action against the company on the grounds that cast and crew are unpaid for a show which charges £20 a ticket.  But is the situation as black-and-white as it appears?

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What is truly ‘interactive’ theatre?

Posted in interactive work on September 10, 2011 by danbaker83

It seems a lot of theatre lately is being labelled as ‘interactive’.  As a catch-all phrase, it was particularly prevalent during this year’s Edinburgh Fringe – a diverse range of shows carried the label in reviews, simplifying their essence to a buzzword which suggested a familiar theme running through them.

But to suggest true similarities within the work is misleading.  I’ve seen articles and reviews discussing interactive work whilst covering a range of shows which are not truly interactive – at least, not in the sense I perceive.  Ontroerend Goed have created a canon of work which is regularly categorised as ‘interactive’ – but as Matt Trueman succinctly points out, the example this year of Audience does not engage its audience in any form of true dialogue, and thus cannot be called such.  Delve further into their back catalogue and shows such as Once And For All We’re Going To Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up And Listen and Under the Influence fall into the same predicament – their intention seems much more to provoke a reaction than to genuinely interact with its audience, and albeit in a less direct way than Audience to challenge the boundaries of the performer/audience relationship.  Internal and The Smile Off Your Face are definitely much more interactive pieces – but through using the model of one-on-one performance, a form which lends itself to the label naturally.

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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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