Notes on Interactive performance

Jeffrey Gray Miller (
Thu, 21 Oct 1999 09:15:43 -0500

It has little to do with technology, but this is part of an editorial in the
newsletter "The Entrepreneurial Parent" and is a "pure audience" members
take on "interactive" theatre and how it makes them feel:
But invention alone didn't deliver the performance of Stomp into the hearts
of my friends and I Sunday afternoon. Added to the mix was the charming
rapport among the members of the cast, and especially with the audience.
Time and again they needled each other like siblings on a restless
afternoon, pulling us in on the joke at each instance. But they won us over
completely when they turned their full attention on us directly. Throughout
the production they tapped into our desire to be part of the fun, inviting
us to clap and stomp in rhythm to their beat. And just dare to stand up to
go to the restroom -- the actors on stage would stop everything and
wait...with a playful glare...until your untimely deed was done. (Talk
about full attention!) To me this indicates an exquisite understanding of
"customer service": a highly personable approach; the welcome invitation
to be part of the project at hand; and self-respect as a professional when
a project endures untimely interruptions -- even if the interruptions come
from the folks financing it all (!).

Finally, the producers of this show also seemed to understand the
importance of offering a gift that keeps on giving. Instead of spending
their encore in typical self-congratulatory mode, they used their encore to
send us away with a small but memorable gift -- a bit of long-lasting
rhythm of our own. Patiently (and playfully!) they taught us how to
experiment with patterns of music, using raw materials such as the palms of
our hands and the soles of our feet, and in doing so formed a bond between
performer and audience that would outlast our brief direct contact. Never
in the presence of any Broadway musical star have I ever felt I could even
*scratch* the performer's talent and take a little home with me. Yet when
my friends and I left this theatre, with the words "Do you feel it?" from
the lead actor still echoing in our ears, this is precisely what each of us
had done.


More notes to follow--interesting thread.