Relating to the audience

A vital part of the work is the issue of adressung the audience, and what we should ask them for in order to start a scene. Should we aska for a place, a relation, a musical style, a problem, a time of day or a dream? The things we ask for will affect how we make the platform – that is with which technique and point of departure that we start the scene. In every part of a performance we carefully consider how the dialogue with the audience should be carried out. During rehearsals the ‘modes’ of the dialogue with the audience is planned and rehearsed (although seldom the exact words), resulting in a plan for the introduction of every new part of the performance (for example in terms of a game) where the tasks are distributed within the ensemble. Sometimes we conduct interviews with members of the audience, and sometimes they are asked to join us on stage.

Seen from a communicational perspective, the ‘modes’ of approaching the audience are important in the development of the performance at hand, since they give incitements the audience of what to expect. The more serious a subject may be, the more distance os often required to the performative spaces where the audience is included. From a dramaturgical point of view, it is vital to us to create clear incitements for the scenes, and to try different paths and starting points during the rehearsals. This is in order to investigate where a certain kind of answer may lead the development in the scene in the context of our interactions and techniques. The goal is to create platforms for communication with the audience, where we as opera improvisers know what to ask for, and also how we can develop and transform the material by the use of the replies we get. As improvisers we know what could be the most fruitful kind of suggestion for a certain scene, such as a place or an action that is carried out in everyday life. In games, techniques or genres such as ‘historical opera’ or fairy tale, the performative approach is indicated by the genre itself.

The audience participation in creating the incitements of the improvisations emanate from an agreement where the audience are invited to be co-creators. This creates possibilities, as well as delimitations. When a person in the audience takes space by giving a suggestion, the person becomes ‘public’, and visible to all the others present in the performance situation, both ensemble and other members of the audience. In this way, the suggestion creates an agreement with us as performers, which we are ‘obliged’ to relating to in many ways. First of all, to speak out aloud in a classical music performance context can be a very unusual experience for a person used to attending classical performances. Second, our improvisation that follows becomes closely associated to the person giving the suggestion, especially if it is of a more personal character. Therefore we need to treat the suggestion with respect, since the person now is known to all others in the performance situation. If we get suggestions on notes, it is easier for us to use the suggestions more freely. One important exception is performances to a young audience, where it is always of utmost importance to take careful care of the suggestions.