Audience Contact Series: Asking a Question

Hello again, today we will be talking about the third form of audience contact which is asking the audience a question. This technique I find the easiest to use when in a traditional Shakespearean style theater. The question, included within the lines of the play, is addressed to an audience member sitting close by. This creates an interesting atmosphere within the theater as many actors will wait for that audience member to answer their question before they continue with the show. This adds additional humor to the piece as well as keeps the actors on their feet because they never know what an audience member will say. When I think of this technique, I think of a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that I saw a few years ago. When Helena finds Lysander lying on the forest floor she rushes over to him and says “Lysander, on the ground? Dead or asleep?” (line 73-74). In the show that I saw, the actress playing Helena directed the “Dead or asleep?” question to an audience member and did not continue until she got a response. This was one of the funniest parts of the show because we got to see an unsuspecting audience member paralyzed and not knowing what to do. It took awhile for the person to respond but when they did, the show continued as if nothing had happened. This scene really helped me understand the power of asking an audience member a question while performing. Next time, I will talk about the last form of audience contact. Until then, thanks for reading!

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