Monday, December 05, 2005

Helping the Audience, Part 3: The Talkback

Playwright Laurie Brooks has a fascinating article in the latest American Theatre about a new approach to talkbacks that goes beyond the typical Q & A session. "How can theatre be a more vibrant, necessary part of our culture?," she asks. "There are no easy answers to that question, but an after-play event that invites audiences into structured dialogue adds ownership and transformative power to the theatre experience. As Daniel Renner, director of education at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, says, reflecting on his experience with [Brooks'] The Tangled Web forum: 'So often we lose sight that theatre is a communal event. We might discuss a play on the way home, but we are already removed from the experience we just had with strangers in the dark. What this simple but elegant design provides is an opportunity for strangers to become a true community that wrestles face to face with feelings, values and reactions to the primal issues of a play.'" Brooks challenges us to "take a risk. Move talkbacks beyond banality to deep engagement." You can read Brooks' entire article, as well as descriptions of her different approaches to talkbacks, at

1 comment:

Freeman said...

As with Boal, this seems that it would work best with a certain type of play and with expert performers. I could imagine it devolving into camp relatively quickly otherwise.

The idea of actors "staying in character" after the play is over, in order to face a jury of their peers does create a peer situation with the audience.

I'd be doubtful that this would work with, shall we say, "The Goat."

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