The Flying Monkey

Excerpts from this discussion are being reprinted in Ruby Slippers Theatre's annual publication, The Flying Monkey, at the discretion of Guest Editor Adrienne Wong.

Sunday, January 16, 2005


Things are trailing off over here...

Some of the dialog from this blog is going into The Flying Monkey (check for more info)

For those interested in participating in a more active dialog about contemporary theatre practices and philosophies, head over to and click on Think Tank.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

To Tanya

i heard details of your car accident... holy shit! here's to you and being alive! exciting way to start the new year.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Another Question

We've had some discussion about who the audience is to each of us as creators.

I'm wondering if the concept of an "audience" is still as useful one. Is the "audience" as a concept too closely related to the "market" of the business world? By continuing to think of audience and performers -- them and us, in a way -- are we continuing to entrench the business paradigm into the process of art-making?

If we find a way of transforming the audience into something else, it seems to follow (especially after reading Darren's thoughts) that the form of theatre as we know it would be obsolete. Those well-made plays would become sinking ships, and us the rats heading for shore... But what are we swimming towards, and if we are squeaking, who will hear? If a rat squeaks in the ocean and there's no one there to hear it, does it still make a sound?

This is the thought that paralyzes me: if there is no receiver for my particular squeak, what is the point of making a peep?

Sunday, December 26, 2004

FADO online discussion

i have read the FADO discussion and it's worth checking out. they're dealing with some similar stuff and struggling with the effects of institutionalization on their practices. it doesn't really answer or address your concerns, john, but they do ask a similar question. this is what paul coulliard says:

" I remember asking John Dummett-- who had characterized himself as a "hobbyist" to avoid some of the expectations placed on "professional" artists -- what values he associated with "art" that made him want to characterize his activities as art. I think this is a tension that bears closer scrutiny in contemporary art, and especially performance art practices. Art practices have expanded exponentially to encompass all manner of human activity and research under the art rubric, leaving the "general public" trailing by the better part of a century in their acceptance or understanding of these practices as "art". So why continue to call it art? Why does understanding our activities as art remain a useful approach?"

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Online Discussion about Performance/Live Art

i'm on the board of FADO, an artist-run oranization dedicated to performance art. we're hosting an online discussion with a number of performance artists. haven't had a chance to look at it very closely but i'm sure there's some interesting and relevant stuff.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Its xmas eve

Its christmas eve, the performances to end all
performances. This is a bigger production than a
wedding. Who is the audience in this case? The drunk
uncles? The gossiping mothers?

At any rate, wanted to send a merry ho ho.


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Am I Allowed

to comment on a post John has that's still in draft form? i didn't know you could make drafts of things. found it when i went to post the previous one.

briefly, relational work doesn't necessarily induce the kind of encounters with people you mention in your post. it can work for the reclusives types too. i'm pretty much that guy, as well. would rather sit at home with a book/internet than pretty much do anything else.

but i'll take this up more when you actually post it. not too sure on blogging etiquette for this situation.

Theater Blogging

I was looking for an image yesterday with my friend, yvonne, so we were googling our first names to see who else shares them. i came across some guy named darren barefoot who i think may be involved with pr or marketing or something. not too sure as his 'about', 'cv', and 'portfolio' all seem to link to pages in latin. anyway, one of his posts was "where are the theater blogs?" so i told him about us. he was aware of theatre skam so i assume he's in the vancouver/victoria area. i though it was interesting since a few days before adrienne started this i was asking the same question. it's obviously in the air. in any case, i think there might be a need for this kind of thing. don't know if this discussion is what the other darren had in mind, he said he was curiouis about play selection process and getting through general auditions intact. there are also some theater blogs mentioned in the comments. btw, i have a blog from when i was presenting 'a suicide-site guide to the city' in scotland. it's no longer active, just an archive:

here's the link to the other darren's blog and the quesiton about theater blogs:

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

why this discussion

Darren wrote: "i would like to know from adrienne why this question is relevant. why do you want to know these things. what are you trying to address? are you trying to figure out why there isn't much interest in theater these days, why, as a social force, it's fallen off the map? or what exactly?"

I'm asking these questions about the audience for purely selfish reasons. I find myself increasingly bored in theatre these days. Even the old bells and whistles of lighting effects and intricate choreography fail to thrill me. Since I've already committed a fair amount of time to thinking about live performance and practicing theatre, I don't feel ready to abandon it. Yet. So I'm looking for new strategies... for ways of engaging others that would be interesting to me were I the audience and, especially, as the creator. Its kind of like the rule my Mother taught me about choosing gifts: try to find something that you would sincerely like, then give that away.

The initial question of "who is the audience, what do they want and how can we give it to them?" came more from the business side of affairs -- audience development, if you will. But reading the postings and dialogue that has been developing has helped to focus things a little more for me. What I'm REALLY interested in are 1) the strategies that artists are using to address their personal dissatisfaction with live performance that takes place in theatres and 2) strategies to strip away the buffer of story or fiction to create environments where the participants (creators and audience) are engaging in an experience in real time.

I must admit that I'm not a big reader. I can hardly get through newspaper article these days, nevermind a book about performance theory or... whatever -- though I did manage to read your novel, Darren, and it was great. I liked the bite-sized chunks, I think that helped me a lot -- So a lot of this discussion about this or that theory/ist is going a bit over my head. I've been thinking about the projects I want to do in a personal way: what are the experiences that *I* would like to have? Surely if I'm interested in those experiences, there MUST be others out there who would be into them too? So that's my logic.

I'm not interested in making anyone feel uncomfortable or confused. I'd be happy if individuals walked out of an event I planned having spoken with a new person about a new thing. Or even just having had a good time. I'm interested in creating spaces where people can talk to each other about things other than the weather or gossip or what's on TV. Maybe they could talk about the event they have just or are about to experience.

That said, if there is a theatrical form that carries me away almost every time, its the musical. Why is that? Doesn't matter how cheesy it is, I get engaged. I think it has to do with the music... and any of you theoretical thinkers please help me sort this one out.

For some reason I think about the indie rock concert when I think about audiences. There are hundreds, thousands of people who will pay $20 or more to STAND and bob their heads to a band way far away. For one thing, there's drinks, there's freedom to wander wherever, to start and stop the experience of the music by heading outside for a smoke, to talk, to watch other people. There's no story.

So: what am I trying to address? I'm trying to give myself a reason to keep making things for other people to see. To figure out how to find like-minded people. To use the tools I've learnt to forge a new form of storytelling (because I can't give up on the story. yet. as much as I sometimes hate thinking about it.)