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The naked audience : audience performance at a recent staging of Gibson’s "the Miracle Worker"

By Caroline L. Heim

Abstract

Contemporary mainstream theatre audiences observe etiquette strictures that regulate behaviour. As Baz Kershaw argues, “the idea of the passive audience for performance has been associated usually with mainstream theatre.” This paper explores a mainstream event where the extant contract of audience silence was replaced with a raw, emotional audience response that continued into the post-performance discussion. William Gibson’s The Miracle Worker was performed by Crossbow Productions at the Brisbane Powerhouse to an audience made up of mainstream theatre patrons and people living with hearing and visual impairment. Various elements such as shadow signing and tactile tours worked metatheatrically and self-referentially to heighten audience awareness. During the performances the verbal and non-verbal responses of the audience were so pervasive that the audience became not only co-creators of the performance text but performers of a rich audience text that had a dramatic impact on the theatrical experience for audience and actors alike. During the post-performance discussion the audience performers spilled onto the stage interacting with the actors, extending the pleasure of the experience. This paper discusses how in privileging the audience as co-creators and performers, the chasm between stage and audience was bridged. The audiences’ performance changed, enriched and created new meanings for each performance

Topics: 190404 Drama Theatre and Performance Studies, 200200 CULTURAL STUDIES, Theatre Etiquette, Audience, Deaf Issues, Post-performance Discussions
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.qut.edu.au:37318
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