Audience for Lindisfarne Festival
Jibba Jabba (Tundra Tent), September 5th 2015
This audience was a body in flux. People drifted in and out of the white, quilted inflatable cube and stayed, mostly on chairs, some on the floor, for as long as the mood took them while a variety of poets took to the stage. A jack russell sat in the straw at the entrance brought the audience together with his barking, particularly at applause, whilst Jibba Jabba’s Jenni Pascoe periodically roused the communal energy and reminded the audience who and where they were. A particularly inspired moment being when she asked if people liked poetic form and said “No, not poetic faun” to a man who did indeed look exactly like a faun. Unbound by the usual conventions of staying to the end, the free form and free faun audience were committed when they were there and you had the sense that for many of them it was their first exposure to spoken word and poetry. Some brought chairs to sit in the weak Northumberland sun a few feet outside the entrance to the cube, there was more clothing and age diversity than in many spoken word audiences and strong listening. You shouldn’t review your own audiences of course, but I enjoyed the quick and audible laughter of my incarnation of the audience when I was on at about half past five and the response from one audience member to my audible-wondering what poem to end on when he asked “Do you have any poems about the Illuminati?”. Sadly, I didn’t, but squeezed out a Dr Who. The poets in the line up added to the audience and contributed extra “whooping” which sometimes spread infectiously. All in all a risk-taking, responsive and interesting audience.
Audience for Sofie Hagen: “Bubblewrap”,
Liquid Room Annexe, Edinburgh Fringe. Sunday 23rd August 2015
This well over a hundred-strong audience had the challenge of finding the venue through the dark warren of the Liquid nightclub and did well, assembling on time on the whole and being greeted by Sofie on their way in. I think they could have chuckled encouragingly more to show willing and engagement while she was offering a couple at the back a pouffe from the stage and her conversation stopping opening line, delivered in great deadpan Danish accent definitely deserved more “..So I was pissing on this guy…” but they warmed up in the sections where she read her teenage Westlife fan fiction and gave heartfelt applause by the end. They were a little too ready to simmer straight back down to “Antiques Roadshow” audience politeness between punchlines for my tastes, though this might just have been attentiveness to her compelling story of teenage mental health issues which they found hard to square with then breaking straight out into dark laughter mode. I felt like the well-constructed, written and performed show was a good bet for the Fosters Newcomer Award nominations (and so it proved with Sofie going on to win) and wondered how far this approbation might have tipped some audience members over into a more certain laughter at points.
Audience for “Budd Kaplinski” (Deanna Fleysher)
Liquid Annexe, Edinburgh Fringe, Tuesday 25th August 2015
This audience sat in a circle in dim light, hung on every word that noir-detective Budd with an anglepoise lamp up his raincoat said and proceeded to narrate and construct a hilarious film-noir over the next hour. From the man who used his voice to do the music, to the Police officers, corpses, intestines (Yes, intestines – my finest hour), whores and their johns, we gave it our all. Triggered by speech-challenged Budd checking that we were all clear- which came out as us agreeing to be all “Queer”- we entered into a willing state of suspension of disbelief, gender and sanity. I was convinced that several of the audience members must have been stooges- particularly the woman who played the Priest who mouthed Budd’s words in a way that looked like she was speaking first, to the man who tied her up at the end during the big reveal and the one who carried her off in the burlesque ending. Apparently they were all genuine audience members, carried along under the spell of the immersive and hilarious experience. Several of them though had been more than once, intrigued by one of the most fun and anarchic performances on the fringe and the rare chance to, not just participate, but be included. Skilful permission giving from Budd’s creator, “comedy artist” Deanna Fleysher, turned this audience into a company who seemed almost telepathic in their responses.
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