Attracting An Australian Audience To see Australian Theatre - How to Educate Our Audience with a #whyiseetheatremoment
One of the best takeaways from the recent survey we conducted with actors in Australia was the fact that a few of you described a need to educate our audiences on why theatre was worth coming to in the first place. I've got to tell you I was inclined to agree. I think for the large part theatre is often a too well kept secret to the Australian public. People are sometimes exposed early on to something that doesn't fully realise the potential of live theatre and later, because of a very insular community that is, at worst snobbish and at best amazing but perhaps insecure, never really challenged to give it another go and get involved again. A me and my mates attitude or the sentiment that you either like theatre or you don't seems to reside.
Over the weekend I went to see a show that was part of the anywhere festival called "Zeroville". The Anywhere festival uses unconventional, non theatre venues to stage its performances and the results can be, as I witnessed, blood pumpingly good. This was my most recent experience of why I go to see theatre.
As we arrived at the justice precinct, in the middle of Parramatta and lined up for tickets I saw 6 or 7 people in all white milling around in different parts of the square, both inside and outside of a rectangular glass building, where "the show" would be performed. Each of the people in white wore a blue neon circle attached to their clothing at chest height. I already felt as if I'd entered another world. I watched as my two friends ahead of me were offered a plastic shot glass of water as a refreshment and were "scanned" upon consuming it. "Thirty three. That's fine thank you, just step this way." The lady in white, with the scanner said to my friend leading the way. "Seventy Seven! That's remarkable, congratulations." apparently my second friend had done quite well... And then there was me. I drank... she scanned... she stopped. She looked at me as though I might have a highly contagious disease. My heart started to race, I'd broke the routine, now she was whispering to another woman and gesturing over to me, as I waited there, smiling a nervous smile, eager to please, the woman who'd taken the scan came over and placed a white sticker on my sleeve and I was asked to wait by the pole while my friends went inside to sit down.
It was terrifying and at the same time, so much fun! I was a divergent, but there was no angsty teen love story going on in the back ground. Eventually, after being shown around the surrounds of the building by a guide and watching as the actors responded to the fact that I'd been brandished with a white dot, I was given a couple more "refreshments" scanned again and told I was good to go inside. 'This is what theatre can be' I thought to myself, maybe not always in this interactive way, but it does involve you, it's a living, breathing thing, a connectedness that happens between audience and performer, as each one fights for the world to exist in it's full majesty for the brief time that they encompass it, together.
As I say, that's my most recent experience of "Why I see theatre" and I've had many more, even in recent history, but the rest of Australia doesn't know about it. In my mind because we haven't educated them about what to expect. What I'd really like to do is connect with a number of the awesome readers we have here and start on a project where you record yourself telling a story of a time that theatre ignited your bones. It could've been at Thyestes at CarriageWorks in 2012, or Howie and the Rookie last year at the Old Fitz, Toby Schmitz playing Hamlet at Belvoir, Ewen Leslie or Pamela Rabe in their renditions of Richard III, the hug at the airport in Caress Ache at Griffin, Damien Ryan being a brilliant Macbeth, Troy Harrison in Mother Fucker with a Hat, Kate Box as Dolores at the Fitz, fuck it might've even been me in The Big Funk earlier in the year or many, many others.
So here's the call to action: Tell me your hair raising, blood pumping, tear inducing, standing ovation why I see theatre moment. Please don't keep that story to yourself! And I'm putting skin in the game! For the best story, put on video, that gives us permission to use it in a compilation of these stories, will be given a premium twin pack of some exceptional, premium wine! Videos should be between 30 - 60 seconds and focus on a single moment and what it made you feel. Anyone interested should leave a comment below, to let us know your video's in the pipeline and lets get a serious ball rolling on why to see theatre in Australia.
Email a link to your video to Michael.Drysdale1@gmail.com or Facebook us at https://www.facebook.com/TheActingBusiness or tweet me @MDrysdaleAU #WhyISeeTheatreMoment
Film and Theatre Actor Based in Sydney. Creator of Script Gym. Lover of Stories.