Saturday, May 9, 2009

Should I really care what you think?!

Yes.  Yes, I do.  Fortunately as I gracefully age I learn to not care as much as I used to.   In theatre school I found it extremely challenging to "not pay attention to the audience and just be present in the scene".   I admit now that I didn't really understand what this meant.  Am I just supposed to ignore the 200/400/800 people staring at me?  I recommend all young actors to get on a comedy stage if they suffer from this affliction, there's nothing like someone yelling at you from the audience to help you focus on the task at hand.    I also suggest outdoor Shakespeare: If you can remain present and connected during a performance when an audience member is reading the text a long with you then you've chosen the right career.  If all that fails, give birth to a human.  It's incredibly painful but it works. 

I digress...

Many workshops for theatre work in such a way that an audience is invited to listen to a reading and then comment on the play.   What did they like?  What didn't they understand?  I've even seen it phrased in such a way as "Help us to improve the play".   Let me say this first:  I'm not precious.   I understand the work I create is for an audience.   The life I've chosen is a series of "Things Yelled Out in Public", even my daughter stopped me in the grocery store recently and yelled "Momma, no poo poo in your underwear!"   She's got a point.   But I have to wonder, do visual artists invite groups of strangers into their studios and ask them if their work needs more red?   Do composers ask those with an untrained ear if the second last note is too high?   Our work is for the public but where do you draw the line?   Is the feedback session for the playwright or for the theatre deciding whether or not they should produce the work? (Please produce my work.  Thank you)

Here's what I love about workshops:  First, I get to go do what I love.   Secondly, I get to work with a group of artists who are working for very little to let me hear the work I've been creating alone at my desk.  And finally, it allows me a sneak peak at hearing an audience reaction.    Are you laughing?  Crying?  ummm....listening?   Or, if we are referring to the audience in my first post - Are you checking your email?

So yes, I care what you think.  Just don't make me shove your phone down my pants (again, refer to first post) and please PLEASE don't poo in your underwear.  That's just down right embarrassing.

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