Monday, January 25, 2010

Role Reversal at PuSH

It doesn't really matter WHO is the audience if the performance is unimpressive. The Show Must Go On plays with the idea of viewer and viewed, but in the end I could not really care less. One scene features the 'actors' watching us with the house lights shining brightly in our faces. They play music (hoping) that the audience will take on the mantle of performer and begin dancing, which a few brave souls did. The players on the stage responded with sarcastic smirks and disinterest. This was probably the best example of audience inversion, because they wore the same demeanor during this segment I had the entire show.

Still the show must go on. There even were a few humorous moments, but they were inconsistent and infrequent. The show ended abruptly, never quite suggesting anything tangible. Or maybe it did. Maybe The Show Must Go On went completely over my head, and did more than just play with the idea of crowd interaction and who the real performers are. As a concept, the idea is interesting; the actors force and draw off the performance (whether it be singing, clapping or cheering) of those watching them, creating a mood separate of the norm, where the players dictate a work to the watchers. This play seems to pull that off, but for the most part, it simply isn't very much fun to watch.

What hurt the play most was what it was trying to achieve; a lack of structure. I would think that the only way this sort of idea could work in practice would be a higher quality of performance. The audience showed up, singing happily when given the chance, clapping along to motivate a particular scene, laughing when required. The problem was that it all felt more for our own entertainment, rather than to improve the play. We sung John Lennon word for word because, well, if we didn't we would be sitting silently listening to Imagine for 5 minutes while the 'real' actors hung out in the green room. By the end, I felt as if I had paid performers to force myself to make my own fun. If that was their intention, mission accomplished.


  1. Kyle, as I was trying to write my blog, I recalled many of the feelings you expressed here, but didn't know how to articulate them. I agree with many of the points you've raised here... thanx for your thoughts..

    You gotta admit though, the titanic segment was good.. haha

  2. You're absolutely right, Kyle, about this being a concept piece--one whose primary aim is to challenge our conception of the boundary between performer and spectator. It can definitely be challenging--even tedious--to sit through. I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts in class today.