An experiment. Theatre on a TV schedule.

Christina and I are currently engaged in an artistic experiment, which the actors involved keep referring to as: theatre on a TV schedule.

Why? Here are the details:

  • 5 days of rehearsal. 3 hours a day.
  • The scenes are 30 minutes. (that ratio of rehearsal to length is not near the theatre regular)
  • They are fully memorized and staged.
  • In two rooms of an apartment. Close quarters with the audience.
  • When your audience is two feet away, acting is a little different (more like TV, less like theatre)

It is a huge experiment for the actors but also in what an audience can handle. Things are turned on their head. The audience is standing and the actors are sittin’ (some times). The space is cramped. The scenes are not… safe. There is a baby, physical violence, drugs, sex, guns, etc – like, in your lap.

And my favorite part, it is not just about theatre. It is a party, with beer and mingling. It is an art gallery, the walls are lined with background information on the region the play takes place (Serbia), the creatives involved and information on the event. Finally, there is theatre, at specific intervals the theatre punctuates the evening – a little surprise to the party.

One of the hardest parts of the entire experiment – the logistics. We have spent weeks mulling over the best way to allow the audience to move around, to enter the party, to follow a path-do they choose or do we choose for them, do they get a menu, do they have a… some many things to think about.

What we decided on – the timeline (letters are groups of guests, R# aligns with a room of the apartment):

  • 7:00 – the first group (A) arrives (10 people). They mingle for 30 minutes (R3).
  • 7:30 – the second group (B) arrives (10 people).
  • 7:45 – both scenes (R1&R2) run simultaneously (A@R1, B@R2)
  • 8:15 – scenes are finished, there is mingling
  • 8:30 – the third group (C) arrives (10 people).
  • 8:45 – both scenes (R1&R2) run simultaneously (A@R2, B@R3, C@R1)
  • 9:15 – both scenes complete – A has followed the journey, can leave or not
  • 9:45 – both scenes (R1&R2) run simultaneously (A@R3, B@R1, C@R2).
  • 10:15 – the theatre is finished, but the party continues until…
It is a little confusing, but it should be quite an event.
At the top, each guest will received a MENU that tells them how their journey will move.
To say the least, everyone involved is excited, engaged and I think what will make it all work beautifully.

3 thoughts on “An experiment. Theatre on a TV schedule.

  1. Well, the experiment has been postponed. Irene (the hurricane) came, she went, and made us reschedule the entire ordeal. No worries. As soon as we figure out our plan I will post an update.

  2. We have prevailed. The BT Party, after some crazy rescheduling, had its first viewing last night (viewing two is to follow next week). It went really well, and the audience was very receptive. I’ll let Patrick fill in more, but we’re all pretty excited for next week.

  3. We did it.
    two nights of theatre
    extremely intimate theatre
    it was awesome, invigorating, inspiring
    AND we learned a lot about what we are trying to do…

    Some things:
    1. pre-mingle. I love that the audience and actors talked before the show. A relationship was created, so in production the audience saw the difference (btwn actor/character) and had a buy-in (because they knew the person behind the work).

    2.extreme-intimacy. The audience was in our space, we were in their space. They saw the subtlety of our acting. We saw their reactions, up-close and personal. I was actually surprised with how quiet or restricted the audience felt in their reactions, as if they did not want to break the magic of the space.

    3. Party-etiquette versus theatre-etiquette. Each requires a different mode of interaction. Finding a balance between that two was challenging for the crowd/guests.

    4. Connecting all the elements. Unity. You can never draw too heavy of a conclusion for disparate elements for the audience. Make it easy, especially if everyone is drinking…

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