Participate or Perish

Queens Theatre 5, Thu 5th Oct, 10:00am, 1 Hour Facilitator: Bron Batten 1st Provocateur: Ian Pidd 2nd Provocateur: Malcolm Whittaker

Participatory performance and theatre not only challenges our audiences but the artists who make it, and can even be seen as a sort rehearsal for real life. The flexible form can also contain artist and audience developments strategies. From an intimate spectacle to large community engagements, how do we grapple with ethics and methodologies whilst creating mass and personal narratives?

Key Points (Updated Live)

  • What does a participatory space look like? Traditional theatre shows, Things (activities not necessarily named ‘art’), situations

  • “all the worlds a stage” implies an audience and a performer but this is becoming more multi dimensioned in the modern performative space

  • Capitalism monetising and consumption of everything creating cultural toxicity, as artists we must create situations that break and challenge this.

  • The gift of art and the arts is form more than content. Form is what allows the content to break through to the society, and allows the space between the artist and audience to be removed or minimalised.

  • To what end do we participate or create participatory art, and then quantify the achievement?

  • Participation is to take theatre outside of the theatre and provide access, and cause conversation to those who won’t or can’t get to the theatre.

  • A chance for new forms to enact a real paradigm shift in audience thinking, removing Aristotelian “catharsis”: by removing the “rational” and taking risks.

  • Relationships to the audiences also creates different participatory form and breaking theatre norms, and confronts even the artists convictions.

  • Are we by producing ‘art’ of a participatory model, commodifying the very activity we show, and thereby promoting and perpetuating capitalism as opposed to “smashing it”.

  • Democracy and relationship between artists and non-artists, participatory model based on equal relationships of artist and audience not “enlightened and ignorant, or oppressor and oppressed.”

  • Are the participatory audience unpredictable or completely tame? Does the unpredictability of a participatory space remove the inherent capitalism of art as a product?

  • Participatory theatre should aim to create art by the audience and of the audience but “not about the audience”

  • There is a difference between a participatory show and a participatory process, with different aims and outcomes, neither of these should be deemed as “Wrong”.

  • There seems to be a lack of language relating to participatory work and funding for participatory work. What should the language we use be and thereby the goals of the work i.e. “public enragement over public engagement”?

  • Are we playing god? Who needs who, do the audiences really need us as artists? Ethics of good in the community, and pay of participants?

  • Should we play safe with participation, or how much can we push boundaries?

  • Why? To create relationships within a community, to promote healthy societies, to experiment personal expression and theories, to provide platforms and expression to those who don’t have such.

  • What are the ethics of honesty, transparency and contract about the art, and how much does honesty and transparency about what is actually happening effect the work?