Monday, July 19, 2010

Clarifying Our Relationships in the Space and with Audiences

posted by Marissa Nielsen-Pincus

Photo by Miguel Lopez, courtesy of Arts World Financial Center

Most of the time when creating something, I don’t realize what I’m actually doing until I’m actually doing it. You can do tons of planning, rehearsing, meeting, and talking. All the parts are there, the choreography, the concepts, costumes, and the site . . . but until everything comes together I’m not sure exactly where I am.

So, as usual, I’m surprised with where we’ve ended up. And quite pleased!

When we first began planning for Undercurrents and Exchange this year, I didn’t realize what affect the spectacle we were creating would have. I remember in several early conversations, we worried about needing to fit in more- should some of us wear business attire, should we carry Starbucks cups or come out with shopping bags from the Godiva store or the Banana Republic so that people can relate to us more easily?

Eventually as our world began to more fully form, these ideas were left behind and we opted for simply being conspicuous and otherworldly.

Surprisingly for me, not blending in has made us much more approachable. Not only does our audience feel very comfortable with us coming into their space and doing strange things, but they actually seem to be delighted by it. They talk to us, smile at us and thank us!

The other thing that keeps striking me about this process is how the reality of creating this piece and the fantasy of what it is keep mirroring each other. We are performers performing and the audience is an audience being an audience. Somehow this mirroring is part of what is making us more approachable.

As part of each performance there is a lot of ‘getting ready’. We get dressed, we have to find particular props and costumes, we can’t find things and it’s stressful, we forget what we are doing and direct each other. This is our backstage and rehearsal experience as well. What we do to get ready for the show is the same as what we do in the show. It begins to feel real.

And then we start our ‘performance’, which echoes the fact that in reality we are already performing. ‘Performing’ allows us to acknowledge the audience as an audience, which I think, feels satisfying to them and it enables us to see, interact, and connect to the audience during each show, which is really fun!!

This blurring of reality and fantasy doesn’t feel murky. It actually feels like it clarifies our roles as performers and audience more then ever! It creates a space for us to push the edges that can also feels safe and familiar for the audience.

So as we continue into this second week of spectacle, I feel like we are actually more human, more grounded in our site and more present with the people we are performing for then I expected.

- Marissa
Read Marissa's previous post from the last U&E series in 2009:

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