Taking the terror out of "audience participation"
Audience participation: two words that cause tremors in all but the most pathological extroverts.
Which is yet another reason performances by the European theater collective Gob Squad are so singular: they include the audience, even inviting a few members up on stage, and yet in a way that is uncannily fun and comfortable. Upper Valley audiences will experience this firsthand when Gob Squad performs its show War and Peace, a madcap yet thoughtful meditation on the big themes of Tolstoy's massive novel and how they apply to today. Audience members play an important role in unpacking those themes and setting the tone of the show.
How does Gob Squad do it?
Explains Sharon Smith, a member of the collective since 2007 and part of the War and Peace cast: "In Gob Squad, we want to be together with the audience. Even though, in the given set up, we are the ones being given the permission to speak, we don't have an interest so much in telling the audience something, we are not didactic in that way. Rather we want to be in conversation with the audience. In War and Peace the whole audience and the performers are situated in The Salon. We invite a few people from the audience to sit with us at our table. So our conversation can stay real and open. We always take care of our guests. Their comfort and the ease with which they can be themselves is our main responsibility."