Pete Miller wrote a great blog post two weeks ago, posted on 2AMt blog, that addresses a topic that has been on my mind for quite some time now; Do we need more theatre in which audiences take an active role?
The driving force for me regarding this topic is the same as it is for most companies, how do we get more people to come attend a show at the theatre? Looking at other forms of entertainment is a logical place to start. I rule out TV, movies and the internet from this topic because they are not live. Yes I know that some live arts are broadcast over TV or in Movie theaters, but seeing a live show versus seeing something live being broadcast is not the same. Broadcasting live events is just one way to attempt generating additional revenues. The main contenders that I see for comparison are dance, music, opera, musical theatre and concerts. My conclusion is that concerts are kicking everyones ass.
When I attend a concert the crowds are alive and actively participating in the shows. Whether that be dancing, singing, talking with their friends, recording video for snapchat/instagram/facebook or simply watching/listening to the show. Audience members leave the concert having done almost anything that they found themselves motivated to do during the course of the show. Whatever the art onstage inspired them to do. As Pete Miller stated in his post “The most frequent research and practical finding is that millennials are hungry for experiences” concerts are an artistic outlet that certainly gives its audience that option.
Of those musical artists I think the theatre community should look at the live shows of Lady Gaga and Pink, among others, to see how they are constructing a narrative in their shows. They are not simply taking their albums and performing the music live but rather using their music as a component in a larger show. However, not all theatre companies have access to incredible sound equipment which allows an audience member to yell and cheer without disrupting the whole concert for everyone. I have no definitive answers in terms of what the theatre can do to include its audience more in the creation of the art, but I think it is something that is certainly worth exploring, I know that I will be trying to spend more time in that gray area as I continue my artistic journey.