”I will definitely watch this again!”
I heard this comment from almost every audience I talked to yesterday after our open rehearsal on “I run” – a play that premieres October 5th 2017.
Yesterday we invited audiences from the Royal Danish Theatre’s panel to watch a rehearsal on this production based on the blog I Run (Jeg løber) by Anders Legarth Schmidt and written for theatre by Line Mørkeby. The audience watched the first 25 minutes of the play. Hereafter, they had a chance to talk to the team behind the production in a Q and A.
About the play
Anders starts running one hour after his six-year-old daughter, who has been suffering from cancer, has been taken off life-support. Amidst the grief, loss and feelings of unfairness, running becomes the one place, where he feels light, free and strong. Where he can breathe, and where he may still be able to feel close to his dead daughter. The piece opens up for questions of how you survive the loss of a child. I run is about running. But it is also about being helpless in the face of illness, and about the roles of death and grief in a society.
Summing up what we saw
Open rehearsals usually leave us with many various impressions about the production, the audience, the reactions and experiences, and various methodological reflections. This time is no different. However, in this brief post we focus on our main question for this rehearsal: What does the audience need and want after an intense experience like this?
We expected to hear either that people wanted to be left alone, or that they really needed to talk and digest their experience with others.
We indirectly saw both tendencies. About half of the group left right after the rehearsal and didn’t stay for the coffee and conversations afterwards. This must be an indirect way of communicating that they did not want to talk to strangers after an experience like this. The other half were happy to share their experience with their companion as well as with strangers. Several of them specifically said it was nice to have the opportunity to vent this experience.
However, one ‘need’ did seem stronger than either of these ways of digesting the art experience. Everyone we talked to were excited to have the chance to talk to the creative team about the production and their experience. They both wanted to share how they felt, but they were also very interested in learning more about the details of the production and the rehearsal process – how the actor had trained for the part, what the thoughts were behind the scenography, what was meant with a name of one of the characters etc. We saw that this layer of information added something extraordinary to their experience.
Methodologically, this way of only showing the audience the first part of a play and thus giving them a good idea of the story, the setting etc. but keeping the ending a mystery seems to be a good way of creating a ‘teaser’ – something that creates great incentive to buy a ticket to go see the entire play.
As mentioned these open rehearsals seem to be a great way of establishing and maintaining a relationship with your audience. The next challenge is to make sure that we see a variety of audience members to these events, so we relate to as many people as possible.