Friday, February 11, 2011

What does pro-am theatre look like?

The always restless American Voices New Play Institute at Arena Stage has launched an online journal of provocations, HowlRound. Here is Meiyin Wang on "The Theatre of the Future":

Theater will be performed by audiences—as in Rotozaza’s Etiquette—where two participants sit across from each other at a cafĂ© table, listening to instructions over headphones, moving around objects and participating in the enactment of a narrative. Or, as in Gob Squad’s Kitchen, where the collective attempt to recreate Andy Warhol’s underground movies, where by the end, the four performers are replaced by four audience members on stage, participating in this quirky meditation of the unknowability of the past and optimism for the future.

And furthermore:

I quote Ben Cameron, from the Doris Duke Charitable Trust, who spoke so beautifully at Under The Radar this January—who compared the religious reformation in the 15th century and our current Arts Reformation—“which is dramatically shaped by new technologies and a massive redistribution of knowledge. With the means for cultural and artistic production and distribution having been democratized. There is a term, pro-am, amateurs who are doing work professionally—a group expanding our aesthetic vocabulary, even as they assault our traditional notions of cultural authority and undermine the assumed ability of traditional arts organizations to set the cultural agenda.”
With increasing interactivity and participation from audiences who are no longer satisfied to be on just the receiving end, content changes. Form changes. Authorship changes.