Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Finale: Three Shows - An Exploration in New Theatre

New pieces of theatre are always a mixed bag. As an audience member, you can never truly know what to expect (especially if you see it before official reviews) and as an artist you never truly know what the reception will be. This project was interesting because it looked at both of these sides in my exploration of three new works in the DC theatre scene: Red Speedo, Crossing, and The Argument.

Red Speedo was presented to audiences as a lab production, which was specifically designed to showcase new works. Because of this, I think audiences were more accepting of the piece as a whole, especially because less money was on the line. (Tickets were only $20). Red Speedo dealt with atypical issues for a piece of theatre which I think caught audiences off-guard, but ultimately won them over, even if not completely.

What was interesting about Crossing was that after a decent developmental process, the creators presented it as a finished work, but audiences and critics felt it was unfinished. This shows how new plays have very different expectations than an established piece of theatre, which is more or less "set in stone" pre-production. People seemed much more preoccupied with the production values of Crossing than they did the others, which I think says something about the show's effectiveness in capturing the audience.

I think of the three shows, The Argument, which was the most classic and accessible show production-wise also had the most contentious and dangerous message. Discussing abortion always sparks debate, and so it is a risky subject to present to an audience. I think it worked the best as a piece of theatre than the other two because it was clear about what it set out to do and didn't try to surprise the audience thematically or theatrically but still seemed fresh and exciting. I think audiences appreciated this as well, and the success of the production allowed audiences to have discussions about the issues presented and have a meaningful impact from the show.

I think these three shows were great choices for this project as they all were presented in different manners, with different intentions, significantly different messages, and all had very different audience responses. I really enjoyed doing this project because I not only got to see three great pieces of theatre, but I also got to really think about what I go to the theatre looking for in a new work and how I feel when I walk out of a show. This project will forever change how I look at new theatre and what I think about audience reaction.

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