we went, at a friend’s suggestion, to a theatre event called Read raw. i know little about theatre, and have gone to half a dozen plays in my life, most of which i enjoyed. Read raw was definitely a ‘different’ experience though, and one that’s really got me thinking.
the format is simple enough- a play’s script *read to an audience, not acted. from what i understood, the actors have the freedom to decide whether they would like to do a bit of ‘acting’ instead of just reading the plays aloud. while it is a ‘public’ event, open to anyone, the audience is small- last night must have had about 30 people. there is no ‘stage’ as such, just some empty space at the front of the room, and no mics. the play is read/performed, and the playwright and director and actors have a bit of a conversation with the audience.
i really enjoyed this format for two reasons. for one, this further breaks down the dividing wall between the writer and the audience, with many comments from the audience being on the lines of ‘you should have done it *this way’, or even ‘i don’t think that character/event was believable’. encouraged by the playwright, these comments acted as feedback, and i had a very strong sense that some of the comments were being incorporated into how the play would be staged next time. it was like watching a play half-written or half-rehearsed, and being able to actually contribute to the continued making of it.
the second reason i really liked this format was the simplicity and cost effectiveness. there were no sound systems or expensive setups. it was held in the foyer of a theatre building, but i imagine any largish room would do, as long as the actors can be heard. it was free for the audience, and i think this event has some funding, though it seems possible to do something similar without the funding too.
the plays were well worth a watch, and though we didn’t participate vocally in the discussion, it gave us much talk material for later. and while i do not feel ‘qualified’ to critique the plays, the discussions were an interesting insight to how people think, particularly how we ask questions.
it seems a pity to me that we seem to need to constantly compare the world of the play to our ‘expectations’ of life and our surroundings. for instance, there was some discussion about whether a manic-depressive would behave the way one of the actors did, a comment about a doctor’s assertiveness etc. i personally feel that the internal logic to the piece is primary, and not so much whether it conforms to ‘reality’ as we think we know it.
there was also this odd need to label, and therefore pin down the ‘what’ of something. while the playwright in one play had written in some behaviours for a character, the actor needed to label it ‘manic-depressive’ to understand and so to communicate the character. another instance was a discussion about whether the play should be a farce or a comedy. while i do understand (and appreciate) the value of labels as indicators and as comprehensible and therefore communicative symbols, i’m not sure either of these helped (me at least) in any way.
all in all a thoroughly enjoyable evening, thanks to everyone involved!