Saturday, April 21, 2007

Odd Audience Reaction at Mike Daisey's Show (at the ART)

This weird thing happened at Mike Daisey's show.

I heard about it from Adam's blog, and now Malachy's has a video of this very weird audience response to Mike Daisey's monologue performance at the ART. A good chunk of the audience leaves, apparently in protest, though it's unclear why. (He uses the "f" word, but to be honest, the content that's on the video seems fairly mild.) On Mike's site, he says they were a Christian group (but I'm not sure how he knows this).

Mr. Daisey handles the whole thing extremely well (the protesters pour water on his desk and script on their way out). I don't know what I would have done. I wondered sometimes during the production of Pieces of Whitey, if we might get angry audience response (it's a comedy about race and well-meaning white people) (but that mostly seemed to happen from the critics) (and they were angry), but nothing every happened.

What's so weird is that this group leaves en masse, but when Mike tries to talk to them about what's happening, they don't answer him. And he's acting calmly and reasonably, really, considering the situation. It seems a strong violation of the unspoken audience/performer contract: he's doing his best to engage and entertain them, and in return expects an honest answer in return. You could say that their leaving is an honest response--they apparently hate it. Pouring out the water on his stuff shows that they really, really hate it. But, especially with the water, they don't take into account that he's a human being (one in a vulnerable position) with feelings. It's not like he was berating the audience or treating them disrespectfully. But they chose to disrupt his performance and the experience of the other members in the audience.

I'm especially disturbed that this happened here in Boston. I've always found audiences here polite, if a little reserved. I just don't get it.

1 comment:

patrick said...

I heard through the gravevine that the group was a school group from a Christian School in North Carolina, so I guess they weren't local.