Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Shared Experience

So much of what we do in the theatre is based on shared experiences. At the most essential level theatre is simply that: audience and artists coming together to share a story in a common space for a few hours. Then there are the hours of rehearsal and collaboration that lead up to that one performance. After that there is the reminiscing and trying to capture just what happened in front of the audience. And the experience is different for each and everyone of us whether it's because of our life experience that we connect the story to or simply because we sat in a different seat than anyone else - each person's expience is unique.

A new production of Romeo and Juliet capitalizes on that thought - with a slight tangent. This production, rather than performing the classic Shakespearian tragedy, performs what all of us remember the story to be about. Director Pavol Liska interview friends and family asking them what the story of Romeo and Juliet is about and he used their responses to construct this production.

While the bigger experiment may be more about how people's memory works and how a play begins to inhabit the subcontious of a culture as a whole, it is also important to step back and think of how the shared experience plays into this. What is it we take away from a production? What is it you would like your audience to come away with? If all anyone can remember is that people spoke in a very stiff, stereotypical "Shakespeak" and everyone died at the end, are we really doing our jobs as story-tellers? How do we make our performances stand out and become memorable?

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