Tuesday, 17 February 2015

More Tough and Vile dialogue

Hi Dani

I am totally getting a blog crush on you: you ask the kind of questions I want to answer. And, since I am answering a direct question, I can use the arrogant school-masterly tone that is always aching to escape from beneath my carefully crafted liberal ambiguity.

I'm using the book (Theatre and Audiences) as a literature source for my inquiry project, and it was useful for me to read about theories on audience. I didn't like the focus on immersive theatre, as there was a 2009 survey that indicated most 'regular theatre-goers' still prefer the traditional viewing experience, yet there has been a huge rise in immersive and interactive theatre experiences. 

'Regular theatre-goers' (I assume) means people who go to the theatre on a regular basis, rather than trying to establish a 'normative' theatre-goer, an 'average'. This implies that the immersive performance is more popular with companies than audiences, and the artists go right on making them even though the audiences aren't too keen on them.
a regular guy

So much for the theatre community engaging with the audiences.

Is this a shift away from the proposed "idolatry of the artist"? Giving the audience more responsibility for both their experience and the outcome?

No. Immersive theatre is more tyrannical and controlling than the 'traditional' experience. You either get pushed around from pillar to post, or are bullied. The audience does exactly what it is told to do. 

Take Hotel Medea (which I loved). It is immersive to the extent that the audience play most of the parts. I decided to refuse the roles forced on me - which led to the audience around me saying that I was being 'disruptive' and the performers ignoring me. I had great fun, but eventually had to fall back in line, becoming not just a passive spectator but a participant in the tragedy as it involved.

It was a different experience, but not one that gave me 'responsibility'. 

Another example of immersive theatre (and one which exposes the form's inherent fascism) is Audience. My protest at that performance ended up in their collected works - even though they misread it as an expression of outrage rather than active participation in the fun of the whole event.

I would also suggest that the role of the audience has changed with the advent of social media - how many audience members are mentally composing tweets or status updates, or even (heaven forbid!) blog posts with their own personal criticisms of the production? :P 

Tweets are great, blogs are better: the danger is that the director's mum is going post a tweet which then ends up on the poster. The 'cloud' of tweets might be useful for gauging success or failure - but the positive tweets are going to get retweeted by the company, and it is open to abuse. 

Does this make the role of a genuine critic more or less valid? 

I am not sure what a 'genuine critic' is. I'm one, obviously, but then again, I am the true real critic in the UK. It might be worth unpicking this idea.

If everyone and their mums are sharing their opinions for anyone to access, are their 'untrained' opinions carry more unbiased weight than the voice of someone with experience and subjective views, as the book claims?

All opinions are equal. All opinions are equal. But some opinions are critical opinions and while they hold the same quantitative weight as any other opinion, they have a qualitative difference. 

This is where the book fails, since it uses loads of critical writing as
2 stars for you, humanity
evidence of audience response. So it can shut its bloody mouth. 

As for subjectivity... that is the state of all human entities. Only God is objective, and he gave up on literary criticism at least a millennia ago.

Got on a bit of a rant there. Hoping you'll come back at me... you know I only do this for attention, right?

1 comment :

  1. Ha! Your blogs do make me smile :) Rant away! It's very interesting!
    When I was quoting the survey, I was referring to a Ticketmaster demographics survey that sent questionnaires to those who had booked tickets through their website: the respondents, I suppose, were more likely to have been those who attend the theatre regularly rather than the casual, once a year visitors.
    I don't like the idea of immersive theatre, and I too think that it is more for the theatre company than the audience: I enjoy that you disrupted the expected behavioural patterns - it's true, and I hadn't considered, that even with this supposed responsibility of the audience comes specific actions and reactions that are considered acceptable - did this kind of theatre arise with Theatre Of The Oppressed? If so, it's an interesting conundrum that within a form aimed liberating those who are oppressed comes a form of repression. (If you don't act the way you're supposed to, you're ignored or put down!)
    By 'genuine critic' I suppose I mean one who is employed by a publication or establishment to critique productions: someone with a theatrical, literary or musical background whose opinions may be seen as more 'worthy' because of this training and experience: I enjoy the statement "...while they hold the same quantitative weight... they have a qualitative difference." It's definitely something I'm going to ponder!
    And thank you - I enjoy our discussions, they always leave me thinking!