Douglas Rintoul, 26 January 2015

I called this session because I have started to make work that includes audiences in

the process of making work. This is new territory for me and is born out of a desire to

make more authentic work, to build a relationship with target audiences, to develop

new audiences and for the work to have a deeper impact - beyond the standard

performance/audience relationship.

This summer I devised a performance and audio/AV work with a group of young adults

in Folkestone, which will inform the making of a new touring work this autumn.

I am also developing an adaptation through a residency in a school in Dover,

observing a class and then leading the students through a devising process. This work

will inform the making of a piece which will tour with the possibility of a chorus of

young performers being involved in each venue. The original students will be invited to

feedback on the process and performance.

There was a general consensus that involving audiences in the process engendered

demystification, was great for audience development, created ownership and

authorship – radically changing their position in relationship to the work.

Many different models of involving audiences were cited:

- Where audiences dictate the outcome of the narrative during the performance itself.

- The scratch model – testing out work in front of audience. Some found this incredibly

beneficial to the creative process. Questions were raised about, ‘At what point does a

piece stop being a scratch performance?’ Is there a point when an audience is

‘scratched out?’ Do we start to prefer the rough and ready nature of early scratched

pieces and lose interest in fully formed pieces? Do we as artists start to only enjoy

these early stages of our work? Should we scratch at all? Should we not already

understand our audiences?

It was asked, ‘With scratch work what does the audience benefit from the process?’

Answers included being part of a unique event. They develop a relationship with the

work and the company. That they have a closer proximity to the work or that they get

bored of the work if they are over exposed to it. It was also raised that something that

works as a fifteen-minute scratch event may not work as a one-hour piece.

- Developing work for young people by putting that work in front of those audiences to

test it out. It was discussed that it's vital to return with the fully formed piece.

- Models of directly involving audiences in creation of content (verbatim - primarily

collecting their narratives and experiences) were discussed and that the title of the

session within these parameters should be reframed ‘Involving PEOPLE in the

process of making work’. With this kind of work their voices are given a tangible

platform, are heard, and witnessed - the narratives are theirs.

An idea of being able to create a piece of work with audiences that then takes on its

own life once the artists have left something like Mummers and Mystery Plays. This

could be the ideal. Creating something that was self-sustaining.

The question of legacy was brought up as an important issue. If the people/audiences

are directly involved in the content/performance/originating of the work, what happens

when the project stops? If the work has been seminal how do we ensure participants

aren't left bereft? Setting up networks (Facebook) between the participants was given

as an answer. Working/collaborating with key organisations who have and can sustain

those relationships after the project has finished (an example of an intergenerational

project was spoken about that had involvement from an NGO who maintained contact

with the participants after the project). The most important thing is that these concerns

are present and thought about in the planning and execution of the work.

I discussed the idea of originating work with a group of people that engenders self

expression and hopefully a lifelong relationship with the arts, ownership of a piece,

offers the artists stimuli in terms of authentic representation of content but also that the

content/issues being explored facilitates discussion and social cohesion. I'm working

on a text that at its heart explores a power play of the ‘indigenous’ over the ‘outsider’.

This work is being undertaken within a school that has a history of bullying of


Examples of this kind of intervention were cited where a type of forum theatre was

employed not only in the process of making the work with participants but also in the

performance itself, to directly tackle issues of social cohesion within that group,

bleeding out into the wider community and audience.

The experience of the artist making this work found that the work was pigeon-holed as

outreach and participatory work rather a piece of art in its own right.


school, Scratch, People, Audience, people, development, Development, Participation,

audience, participation, involvement, scratch, young, verbatim, forum, demystification,