CMU School of Drama

Monday, November 21, 2016

“Pop!”-Up Theater Extends Venues and Audience Experiences

urban excavations: “I wanted people to just be able to happen upon it and see something weird and go: what was that?” Dramaturg Kelly Kerwin reflected recently on her temporary “pop up” performance festival. POP! comes at a pivotal career stage, and was funded by the Bly Creative Capacity Grant, a two-year-old initiative hosted by the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas.


Katie Pyne said...

Wow, I think this is a great way to bring audiences and actors even closer together. I really like how these actors are subverting what is normally done in theater. Not in a totally wacky way, but just enough to make you sit back a little bit and think. For instance, I really like the situation with the pianist playing Beethoven in a regular kind of bar. While this may not be what we think of regular theater, they are changing the space. I also am down with the concept that the audience is a participant, especially in this kind of setting. Sometimes, in a theater, audience participation can get a bit stale, but when you transfer the people into a bar, the feelings loosen up and people start to loose their inhibitions (especially if drinks are involved). It's also a more intimate setting, so it wouldn't feel like so many people are watching you and judging you, like they would be in a regular proscenium theater.

Jacob Wesson said...

We live in a world where the audience/performer relationship shifts in a new way every day, so this new type of theatre feels like a logical extension. In the same way that a flash mob captures the hearts and minds of the audience just by virtue of surprising them, I feel like this kind of theatre will be unique and entertaining simply because of it's unpredictability. Taking simple motifs like the bar pianist and twisting them on their heads for the sake of creating a very slight, but still theatrical experience for the "audience" is a cool idea, and one I think the field needs to do more of going forward of theatre hopes to stay relevant. We line in a time where ti si becoming harder and harder to reconcile spending 3 hours at a production of a show with overblown musical numbers and spectacle, but an hour at a bar where some mysterious things happen that are open to interpretation seems like it would be much more in the wheelhouse of today's modern audience. As such, this new brand of participatory theatre is a welcome change that I hope to see spread and grow in the coming months.

Drew Himmelrich said...

This idea of taking theater to the people is really a good idea. It is a new idea for me in terms of an organized theater experience, however, things like this are actually quite common. One example is when performance majors (A, MT) rehearse either in the lobby or outside Purnell. They usually are just doing part of a scene, but for passers by, it is an opportunity to share the art. I see people giving their friends looks of concerns when a fight scene is being enacted and then smile when they realize it is just a scene. But even beyond that, things like flash mobs, and other YouTube pranks in public are all types of this pop up theater. I think this pop up theater idea really is a great idea since it is tested to work without even knowing it. I am excited to see what this project becomes and hopefully they find me.

Zak Biggins said...

What an interesting idea! I am always for exploring new conventions in theatre and expanding/construing the social norms of this art form. Like Katie said, this is a fantastic way to bring people together- it seems almost polar opposite to sleep no more which is all about the individual experience. I think we can expand on what this article depicts and see some more interactions between audience and performers here at CMU. This type of theatre almost seems anti-brechtian in the sense that it does not frame the show rather invites the audience to be apart of it.

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