>>Vol 1:2 coming soon…

June 4, 2008

07instructionfortomorrow

Vol1:2 Instruction For Tomorrow is near press time! more coming soon… if you can’t wait you can always READ THE ARTICLE BELOW… or listen to the raw recording in the podcast link…

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Vol 1:2 ‘Whomever You Talk To Are The Right People’: Instruction For Tomorrow

August 25, 2007

Winter/Spring 2008

Interviews By Garry Williams, Tara Patriquin, and Christian Barry
Foreword and Edited By Dustin Harvey

In the following interviews, people who have never been to the theatre are asked by the three Halifax based directors to discuss the current state of live performance in Canada, and the kinds of theatrical experiences that would compel the interviewees to be a participant.

The talks explore a wide and colorful variety of subjects, including people’s relationship to physical space, their desire for good acoustics and Green construction, artistic programming, and networking though the uses of advertising and catchy slogans. They discuss their need to feel like they belong, and their desire for the theatre to be an interactive experience, and give some insights on how the theatre can be a multi purpose venue and also an active community space. Finally, these interviews reflect on a person’s human scale, and provide instructions about the possible ways theatre makers could allow new audience members to fit in. The instructions are as random as the people who gave them, but together they inspire the reader to consider one space full of exciting possibilities, and cultural significance.

Garry Williams, Tara Patriquin, and Christian Barry have each been creating unique theatre performances for the last five years mostly in and around Halifax’s limited venues. Collaborating within their own theatre companies with no particular theatre to call their own, they use Halifax as a home base to create their individual brands of innovative theatre in restaurants, school classrooms, and empty storage bunkers. Equally interested in the development of new audiences, the performances these emerging practitioners make with their groups take into consideration the relationship the performance space has to the individual. They have, for instance, developed plays that challenge the existing model of theatre production, and put the audience’s experience at the forefront:

– In 2007, Revisited, a play created by Christian Barry’s 2b Theatre, took place around a table for twenty-eight people.

– Antigone, a performance from Tara Patriquin’s company Angels and Heroes made use of a former apartment space that sat a capacity audience of thirty-five.

– The monthly series by Garry Williams’ company DaPoPo Theatre called Café DaPoPo, allowed a theatergoer to pick and choose individual performances from a menu.

These practitioners are among a growing number of smaller performance groups in Halifax who cannot afford to build their own space, but have an invested interest in cultivating new audiences for theatre. So, who is the audience they are appealing to? What is the ideal space to house this theatre? Is there anyone out there with instruction who is waiting to be heard?

In the following, these three practitioners talk to over thirty people they find on the streets of Halifax about the kind of theatre they would like to see in their city. It is an abridged, edited version of three separate hour-long interviews that took place simultaneously on one Saturday evening in October. The only rule was that they people they talked with must never have set foot in a theatre.

Where the Audience of Tomorrow has been cited the abbreviation AOT has been used. A version of the interviews, which has been distilled down into a list of instructions and made into a silk-screened blueprint, will be published in a limited edition for the Fire In The Hole publication. More information on that publication and/or each of the practitioners who conducted the interviews can be found at the web addresses located at the bottom. So, this is where we begin: what are you looking for?

9:03PM Argyle Street

Christian Barry (CB): ‘Hello my name is Christian Barry, I am looking for the audience of tomorrow…’

9.03PM Argyle Street

Tara Patriquin (TP): ‘This is Tara Patriquin looking for the audience of tomorrow…’

9.03PM Argyle Street

Garry Williams (GW): ‘My name is Garry Williams, and I am looking for the audience of tomorrow…’

9:12PM Hollis Street

GW: ‘Are you looking for a more internationally competitive scene here in Halifax?’

AOT: ‘Yes. And something that touches on like more taboo subjects, I guess, like the whole AIDS, the whole gay thing.’

GW: ‘Yeah?’

AOT: ‘[The] younger generations we need more, something more in your face.’

GW: ‘Is there theatre that breaks the taboo beyond with what you are comfortable?’

AOT: ‘Nope.’

GW: ‘Not at all?’

AOT: ‘Not at all.’

GW: ‘No lines not worth crossing?’

AOT: ‘It’s theatre. It’s art. There are no lines. When you draw lines that’s when it becomes TV programming.’

CB: ‘Yeah?’

AOT: ‘[The] avant-garde man…Like some fucking forward thinking stuff. Forward thinking stuff as in like something that your parents would turn their eyes away from…You want to be groundbreaking with anything because if you don’t grab someone’s attention you just can’t do it anymore actually.’

CB: ‘Right.’

AOT: ‘Something that’s great for theatre is things like, I don’t know, is when people who are acting in theatre come off the stage and get involved with the audience. It’s good when you try to make the audience a bigger part of what is going on.’

CB: ‘Yeah?’

AOT: ‘Make it less of a show and more of an experience… I am too anicy of a person to be sitting down watching movies and like theatre. Not that I don’t like it.

GW: ‘Mhm…’

AOT: ‘It’s just… I don’t know… I don’t know. The general public doesn’t enjoy going to sit down and basically just focus on [watching] the event. They need more of a purpose to go than other than the event. If you were able to offer some like drinks, and food and stuff, and still be able to watch the show I think you’d get more of an audience… And, yeah, you can sit and have a drink while you are enjoying the performance… When you come out at intermission there needs to be like everyone has to be able to get [his or her] drinks right away… It can be a little intimidating at first to be able to go to a theatre and sit there for a two-hour stint, and focus.’

GW: ‘Right.’

AOT: ‘For people who are not used to or brought up going out to see live entertainment like that… If there’s a break in between, you know what I mean, so you can sit and drink and enjoy, and socialize with other people that you never met before, and, ah, yeah… [To] be able to go and relax and not feel stuffy sitting in the theatre the whole time and staring at the show. It really makes a difference to be able to feel more relaxed in your atmosphere… [It] takes that little bit of edge to go and to be able to accept it, basically… You don’t want to have people sitting in a theatre not being able to basically say something during the performance. You [want to] feel free and comment to friend, ‘I like this, I don’t like this, whatever.’ Not to be destructive to the performance that is going on, but being able to communicate instead of just sitting there staring and in your mind saying, ‘I don’t understand this, I don’t understand what is going on, blah blah blah… then you are programming yourself to hate. But, ah, just communicating with your audience, I think, making them aware of what is going on… Entertainment is disengaging, is engaging enough to disengage… I find that while definitely agree with the escapism side of it… for me personally… I’m the same way with [the] music scene or literature. It has to have an experimental edge to it. But, I have not been to theatre here in Halifax, and I have been here a year… And you live eat and breathe whatever you are doing… well, it’s make or break, right?’

TP: ‘Yep.’

AOT: ‘So, those are the people that when they get to where they want to be they really appreciate it because they had to struggle to get there.’

9:33PM Gottigen Street

CB: ‘Two people are waiting in a BusStop here. Let’s see. Oh. They are both listening to iPods, and not speaking to one another. I don’t think they are together. I don’t feel entirely comfortable approaching single people. There [are] a couple of people in another BusStop across the street however they’re making out. I’m even less comfortable about approaching them.’

9:36PM Barrington Street

GW: ‘What kind of spaces, what kind of theatres?’

AOT: ‘Outdoor… Ok. I really like outdoor theatre. I think [theatre] should be small. [Theatre] should be intimate… Very personal…’

CB: ‘Mmhm.’

AOT: ‘You should be able not to touch the actors, but be there experiencing with them. Have them come out into the audience bring people up kinda. Not improvish but…’

CB: ‘Interactive.’

AOT: ‘Yes, interactive. Surrounding the performers because it is a more holistic approach to audience participation… With theatre… you should be able to experience it with someone and talk with them.’

CB: ‘Right.’

AOT: ‘About the experience… Who ever is playing is more important than where they are playing.’

CB: ‘Ok.’

AOT: ‘It doesn’t matter if they’re in a bar or a hockey arena.’

CB: ‘Right.’

AOT: ‘It doesn’t matter. It is who you are seeing.’

GW: ‘What are your thoughts?’

AOT: ‘We should get theatre that’s, um, that’s like gonna to challenge people in their thoughts about [the] things that are going on right now. I think that would be important. I think that people should be mingling with the theatre, and that should involve the people in it so that they feel that it applies to them more because too often in theatre and in entertainment people like are disconnected a bit right? … And this is almost like bait. Like I know, as an artist, you probably don’t want to be in this kind of atmosphere all the time having people up and down during your show blah blah blah… But you got to get people out there to see it… Like the general public they are not going to go straight off the bat to see a show, a two hour show, in a theatre from the beginning, but if you get them out there, and they like it, and they know your name, and then at the end of the year you have your big show or something in a big theatre or something and they’re like, ‘Oh yeah, I like those guys, I’m going to go watch your show in the theatre…. Something interactive where people just don’t feel like, like a filler, like seat filler, you know what I mean?’

9:52PM Park Lane

GW: ‘Right…. Hey ladies. (Clears throat) Do you have a couple of minutes to talk?’

AOT: ‘Depends on what you want to talk about.’

GW: (Laughs) ‘That’s a good question.’

9:53PM University Avenue

CB: ‘So how can we make theatre more like a party?’

AOT: ‘Um, drinks in the theatre? Mushrooms?’

CB: ‘Magic mushrooms? So legalize drugs in the space? That’s a good suggestion. Ummm…’

AOT: ‘How about holograms of famous actors on the stage? … I’m open-minded. I try anything. Almost anything. Once.’

GW: ‘Right.’

AOT: ‘Theatre on a ship. How’s that sound?’

GW: ‘Theatre on ship?’

AOT: ‘On a dockside ship… This is a man of the sea.’

GW: (Laughs)

AOT: ‘A centralized stage is important… Make it pretty… I always picture more modern. Cleaner and whiter… like lighter… only in the lobby. Not inside when the show is going on… Music, of course, music.’

GW: ‘Music.’

AOT: ‘Acoustics, acoustics, acoustics.’

CB: ‘Acoustics?’

AOT: ‘Acoustics… It has to have very good acoustics… We need more legroom… Make sure that you can see from every seat as well… TV’s on the back of the back of all the chairs in case you can’t see… And have a place to put water because it always gets dry in the theatre… [The shows] have to be funny… Something kinda current. Or, something based on something people know about like… mainstream but like… funny… A lot of Broadway things I would say that would be nice to see here… Yeah.

CB: ‘Right.’

AOT: ‘I guess a multi use space… Space for other artists like playwrights and things like that just to display their art… Theatre that’s directed to the younger group of people, you know, like what we are going through in this area more or less… Make it accessible to different varieties of people in terms of like cost and in terms of different seasons who is gonna be performing.’

GW: ‘Ten bucks?’

AOT: ‘Ten bucks. Fifteen bucks… Also having the space to house artists in residences… The idea of having different, um, artistic disciplines… Having, you know, an artist lounge… I like it smaller too… Floating.’

CB: ‘Floating?’

AOT: ‘Floating and like hovering.’

CB: ‘Hovering? So you mean actually physically? The building itself is hovering somehow?’

AOT: ‘Yeah.’

CB: ‘Can you feel it moving when you are in it?’

AOT: ‘No. It feels safe when you are in it… (Laughs)

CB: ‘You can do it. Hey listen, the Theatre of Tomorrow can anything you want.’

9:59PM Queen Street

GW: ‘Would you mind talking to me for a few minutes about audiences of tomorrow?’

AOT: ‘Um, it might not be the best timing.’

AOT: ‘Nah, bring it on. Yeah come on.’

GW: ‘ Are you sure? I don’t want to impose.’

AOT: ‘Yeah, we are kinda having an intense moment.

GW: ‘Ok, I’ll leave you alone.’

10:01PM Halifax Parade Square

AOT: ‘They need to advertise it a lot. I don’t think you hear about it… Maybe you hear about it in little circles but you don’t hear about it in a broad way in Halifax… Where do you find out where a good play is today? I just don’t see the publicity… Maybe it’s just a matter of me getting off my lazy ass to see you know what’s going on in town… But advertise where it counts. Get them with catchy slogans and stuff…’

TP: ‘Yep.’

AOT: ‘I don’t think [theatre] intends to be an underground thing, I just don’t think there’s the man power… People need to network more. It seems that things are maybe fractured… People who go to theatre shows are other actors… Most of the people who want to go see theatre can’t afford it… You’re cutting out your own population. You are cutting out everyone except for a select few…’

TP: ‘Yeah. Ok.’

AOT: ‘There isn’t the demographic here… You know, they’re too old.’

GW: ‘Too old?’

AOT: ‘The audiences here, yeah, the average typical audience is 45 and over…’

GW: ‘Yeah?’

AOT: ‘There isn’t the population… There isn’t the infrastructure, which is the charm, and the curse of this place… It’s more of a date thing here…’

TP: ‘Right…’

AOT: ‘You have a lot of hurdles to jump man…

TP: ‘Yeah’.

AOT: ‘I don’t know. Meeting with people and clicking with people is hard. I think that we are all kinda like puzzle pieces and we all fit together somehow… Everybody has some art in them. It just comes out different a different way in everyone… And there [are] people thinking about that too that aren’t even in theatre, but know the importance of it… Different perspectives… I have very little desire to be part of a machine that’s trying to take over the world. I’d rather live off the grid…

GW: ‘Yes…’

AOT: ‘Have more events. Fundraising events and drawing the public in… Variety is good. I like going to a show and seeing like 6 year olds…

CB: ‘Do you have any advice for someone trying to make theatre?’

AOT: ‘I mean, just keep working at it, and don’t settle for the norm. Always try and go one step above what everybody else is doing… People usually do it pro bono just because it is something that needs to be done… Be creative. Have fun. Don’t be afraid to like try a bunch of different media, and put different things together… Don’t force anything. Things will come… And patience. It all comes together if you just keep working at it and chipping things slowly… And then gratitude for the both of [you] for trying to help me somewhere to keep warm tonight. Even though I know I shouldn’t I think I am probably going to get myself a beer on the way there.’

TP (Laughs)

AOT: ‘I’m going to work my way through the bars on the way down to wherever I’m headed unfortunately…

GW: ‘Have fun.’

10:04PM Coburg Street

CB: ‘Alright, I am stopping the tape. Ok. See you soon. Ok. Bye.’ (End of tape)

10:07PM Spring Garden

GW: ‘I am hoping to catch someone else before the tape is up and I return home. Um, heading back toward the…’ (End of tape)

10:08PM Agricola Street

TP: ‘Is that Ivy and Shawn? Oh. Approaching Ivy and Shawn. It’s a perfect end to this evening. (End of tape)

Acknowledgements:
Joseph Unrau, Rae Brown, and Donald Wood.

For more information: Garry Williams (DaPoPo Theatre) http://www.dapopo.org/; Tara Patriquin (Angels and Heroes) http://www.angelsandheroes.0catch.com/; Christian Barry (2b Theatre) http://www.2btheatre.com/; For More Information on Fire in the Hole including an audio recording of the above interviews, please visit the podcast section of the site.