As theatre and the performing arts evolve and modernise, are we blurring the line between performance and reality a little too much? Audience participation, taboo themes, breaking the boundaries of traditional performing space and things like the renewal of ‘exclusive’ and ‘private’ performance and living room theatre are becoming more popular.
Recently; however, I attended a performance in which the trend had become too trendy for its own good and real life became an intrusion on the performance rather than a clever echo of it. Gone was the enraptured audience, silently and respectfully engaged with the action. And sadly it is not the first time I have been witness to such behaviour.
A series of short performances were delivered to an intimate audience and were all well executed, visually exciting, planned, choreographed and united through common themes.
Unfortunately, the setting of this so named ‘living room theatre’ became intrusive to the point where it discouraged rather than invited the audience’s engagement with the material. The distractions of a meowing cat and a violently growling dog were shocking – unexpected – but more shocking was that they were not removed from the performance space, but encouraged, petted, rewarded. Add to this the fact that the very make up of the room itself, and its impossible conversion from house to theatre, became a barrier to the performance.
My admiration goes to the performers who despite the varied and challenging disruptions continued in a professional manner and still managed to put on an impressive and interesting show.
It seems in our desire to break from tradition and experiment, we have let the boundaries slip too far and in seeking to excite our audiences and involve them more fully in performance, we have in fact added distance and created a larger gap between performer and observer. Where will the trend go from here?