Last night I attended the Buzz Festival at Theatre Passe Muraille – a tri-annual theatre work-in-development festival, which I talked a little about in yesterday’s post. The Buzz Festival takes place over the course of a week and features three short works-in-progress and one musician or band per day. After each presentation the audience is asked to write down their thoughts of the piece by answering specific questions given to them in a booklet form in the program. Examples of questions included tonight were: “what images stand out?”; “was there anything unclear/confusing?”; “what do you think the focus should be?”; among other more piece-specific questions. The goal of the festival is to allow the creators to receive specific feedback and build on the partnership between audience and story. As Andy McKim, Artistic Director of Theatre Passe Muraille, said in the program: “Rather than theatre being created in isolation, artists are given the opportunity to incorporate audience feedback into the development of their work, ultimately creating stronger, supported theatre.”
This was the first time I had been to a Buzz Festival, and I will definitely go back. Not only was it great to see works-in-progress (all in different stages of development), I really did feel a part of the process. It was encouraged to write down feedback in the booklet and also to stay and chat with the artists afterwards. You were also able to leave your e-mail for the specific shows you were interested in to stay up-to-date with the progress of the piece. In live performance (like theatre is by its nature), the audience is a huge part of the production. This is a great way to get the audience involved.
I also found the atmosphere made me very open to discussion. I ended up chatting with a very interesting couple sitting beside me. It turns out they are activists who were arrested at the same time as Tommy Taylor – the writer and performer of the third piece of the evening, You Should Have Stayed Home (about his arrest during the G20 summit last June in Toronto). It was very interesting to talk to them about activism and the negative spin the public generally associates with what they do. They suggested I should do a month of activism as my last month and told me about all the different ways to get involved. They also have vegan and freegan (more about freeganism from Wikipedia here) roommates, so I left them my e-mail in hopes that I can chat with their roommates about their lifestyle for the month of September.
Tonight I’m going to see Joan As Police Woman in concert, so will be writing about my experience tomorrow. But here’s one of her music videos: