audiences learn from each other, as well as from me
I’ve been making theatre and creating shows for a while now, self-producing a string of performances that I can wear proudly, like a necklace, feeling good about just making the thing. I don’t really know in what order I’ve put the gems, or exactly how I picked the sizes and shapes of the beads; I was just going on what feels right. But when I take the necklace off, I can see the repeating patterns, which is both cool and a little unnerving. It gives me clarity: apparently I knew what kind of work I wanted to do, even if I wasn’t consciously aware of it at the time.
The biggest, most obvious pattern for me—is compulsion too strong a word in this context?—is that I want to bring audiences into a space where they have to actively be involved in what is happening.
Not necessarily "audience participation," in the noxious comedy show sense, nothing forced. I'm merely observing that my favorite works (Phone Whore, nerdfucker) bring audiences right into the situation unfolding on stage—they may be watching, but they are more than spectators—and my favorite shows (Smut Slam, BEDx) demand that audience stay active and alert, with room for them to step in and participate as tellers and presenters of their own truths and practical knowledge.
This isn’t something that I sat down and consciously included in the creation of these events, but there it is, clear and obvious: for best results, my audiences need to be present and involved. And now, even while I’m digging into the script for Terrible Sex Tips (coming soon to an Edinburgh Fringe near you, EEEEP!), another show idea is popping up, something like sex and relationship advice and commentary crossed with a live talk show, probably with some games and pop quizzes. Which all sounds fine, but as I was describing this to UK Muse, I heard myself say: and then everyone can break out into discussion groups!
“Don’t mention discussion groups,” UK Muse said. “People won’t come out for that.” But that’s exactly the sort of thing that I want to play with! It’s something that already occurs at Smut Slams, without any intervention or guidance on my part: people discuss the stories and the Fuckbucket questions. Hell, it's part of the Phone Whore and nerdfucker experiences, too; I consider it one of the highest compliments I can receive, when someone tells me they talked about one of my shows for a loooooong time.
Those conversations are happening, and people are already learning from each other, which is great. How much more could happen if I go into this consciously?SO MUCH MORE. One of the things that I am reminded of while hosting Smut Slam is this: I don’t know everything. My areas of expertise are limited; my range of knowledge is narrow in some places and shallow in others. My experience is my own, and not always relevant to anyone else’s experience, and vice versa.
Especially in the area of sex and relationships, there is so much information out there, way beyond my scope! BUT. If I can hold some space for everyone else to weigh in and discuss amongst themselves, and perhaps with strangers who might challenge their worldview and offer something entirely different… then that is one step closer to the way I want the world to work around these topics.
We all have something to add to our emotional understanding of really challenging issues. At its best, my work makes room for that sharing. Now that I understand that's what I'm drawn to, I want to do it MORE.
No, loves, I haven't forgotten about this blog. I've just been sick and also performing and traveling and squeezing my heart and mind out into the new show and.... well, you know. If you think this creative work that I'm doing is important, please share! AND, if you have some money to spare, consider becoming a patron of mine on Patreon!