Where audiences are responsible for creating their own performance, what is the role of the artists?

Convener(s): Sian Rees

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations: 

This type of work offers the artists more freedom, it’s an empowering process and offers more options.

The focus of the work is about re-negotiating the audience/artist relationship

Although, there is something freeing about stepping back, and not having to participate fully. And sometimes the work becomes solely about the audience member, which can be overwhelming and even dull (as they spend their time watching each other)

What about the presence of the artist? In some work, the artist need not be present at all.(the artist becomes redundant?) Are we missing out on the presence of the artist, the ‘spark’ that they bring to the work? However, installations are meaningful without the presence of the artist. Theatre, however, is different, as its live, its ephemeral, and this is what’s exciting about performance.

Audiences may want more imaginative work, and only see a ‘slice of their own life’. And audiences become the artist. (performativity?) Audiences though, want to see artistry, and skills which they don’t have themselves. They want to see craft.

Perhaps we over-think the audience experience, is there too much focus on this relationship at the expense of the work?

The role of the artist becomes more about the work undertaken before the performance itself, the creative process happens beforehand.

Do we need the audience more than they need us?

The personal journey (individual moments for e.g.) v’s the collective experience (group of audience members). Perhaps we can marry the two in a rich conversation. Those individual moments make audience feel privileged and special, it’s an empowering, emotional and intimate experience.

As a culture, are we obsessed by categorization? Can more ‘experimental’ theatre join other artistic communities to create a more supportive network? Why do they work against each other? Can we support each other across disciplines?