BRIGHTON, NOT SILICON VALLEY

In the last blog we looked at “virtual” meetings between performers and their supporters / fans / audiences etc. We heard of “after show” Q + A’s where cast members sat in front of a laptop and answered questions from audience members. And the question we asked was: “how does this compare to meeting actors in the flesh? Indeed, is there a comparison?”

A few weeks ago Ratchet Theatre Company (my theatre company) undertook a mini tour of the South-West of England. After each show we ran a Q & A with the cast (of two). A large percentage for the audience stayed behind to meet the two girls “in the flesh” and to share their thoughts. Could they have done this though without meeting the two girls “in the flesh?” Obviously it couldn’t be done literally but metaphorically? Is “meeting” someone on-line actually meeting them? The same question can be asked of a “live” broadcast / screening of a play. Meeting two girls (or any cast members for that matter) who have just finished a very intense and personal drama are both exhilarated and vulnerable. They are also probably still high on adrenaline. And what’s more they will look at you, not a camera. And you will answer them, not a camera.

Technology can enhance performances, it can introduce new ways of working and it can go where other mediums cannot. But will it ever take the place of eye to eye contact? Three years ago my theatre company undertook an eight date tour with a play called “Dark Vanilla Jungle” by Philip Ridley. It was a one-woman show. And we offered a Q & A after each show. Katie, our actress (and co-director of the company) went through every emotion possible in the 1 hour 50 minutes of the play. And she was truly exhausted afterwards. To say the play was intense is very much an understatement. In fact Katie spends a lot of the play swearing at the audience. But despite this there was a lot of empathy for her character and there were more than a few sniffles towards the end from the audience as well as from Katie.

After the show there was not just the usual question and answer scenario but more a feeling of a metaphoric hug for all still present. Could this have been achieved via a laptop? I think we know the answer to that one……..

 

Actresses pictured – Katie Bottoms and Hetty Elliott – FREAK” 

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