Today, let’s talk about Interactive Theater’s enchanting world. About twenty-two years ago, my family traveled to Disney World in Florida. Of course, we have a great time riding the rides, seeing the shows and everything else the Disney Corporation provides. However, one particular experience intrigued me–the street performers.
Meeting Goofy at Disney World
Our daughter who was nine years old at the time, loved Goofy. We spent three days looking for Goofy so she could get his autograph. Finally, on the last day we spied him. She called to him, he turned around as if surprised and threw his arms open for her. She ran to him and hugged him hard. Then and there Goofy came alive for all of us. It was one of those moments a parent dreams about for their children. It was wonderful. So, now let’s talk about Breaking the fourth wall: the enchanting world of interactive theater.
In the realm of performing arts, where the audience typically plays the role of passive observer, interactive theater emerges as a vibrant and immersive alternative. Imagine a space where the boundaries between stage and spectator blur, where the audience becomes an integral part of the narrative. Welcome to the enchanting world of interactive theater, where every show is an invitation to participate, engage, and experience the magic firsthand.
That’s a tall order, don’t you think? When I did research for this post, I ran on to www.thegamer.com where I found rules for Fur Characters at Disney. One rule is that Disney forbids cast members to reveal their real identities on social media. They want children to believe that Goofy is the same character from Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse. While the cast member is an employee, they’ll have to keep their role a secret. Wow!
You may have experienced interactive theater and not realized what it was. Many Renaissance festivals or seasonal festivals hire actors to serve as interactive performers. They engage people as the audience takes in the various performances, jousts and shops. Additionally, you might find interactive performers at a parade, or as your child waits in line to meet Santa at the mall. I’ve even asked my casts to interact with the audience prior to the performance, especially with children’s theater. Interactive performers are everywhere. Check out this Renaissance festival performer.
Shattering the Fourth Wall in Interactive Theater
Traditional theater often relies on the fourth wall, an imaginary barrier that separates the performers from the audience. Interactive theater, however, boldly shatters this convention. From the moment you enter the venue, you are no longer a silent observer but an active participant. The fourth wall dissolves, and you find yourself stepping into a world where your choices, reactions, and engagement matter. Talk about engaging your audience!
I think we can safely categorize Blue Man Group as interactive theater. Have you ever seen the Blue Man Group? Blue Man Group is an American performance art company formed in 1987. Blue Man Group is known for its stage productions, which incorporate many kinds of music and art, both popular and obscure. Its performers, known as Blue Man, have their skin painted blue. Check out What It Takes to be a Blue Man
A Personal Journey in Interactive Theater
Whenever I attend an interactive production, I enjoy watching the characters as they play off the audience members. This keeps the performance fresh for the cast. One of the key charms of interactive theater lies in its ability to create a personalized and unique experience for each audience member. As you might expect, no two performances are the same. Generally, the actors respond and adapt to the energy and decisions of the audience. This dynamic interaction transforms the theater from a static stage to a living, breathing environment where the story unfolds in unexpected and exciting ways.
Interactive Musicals and Plays
There are a few plays and musicals which incorporate interactive theater within them–one is Mystery of Edwin Drood. Based on Charles Dickens’ final unfinished novel, this hilarious whodunit invites the audience to solve its mystery by choosing the identity of the murderer.
Correspondingly, another example is Night of January 16th. This 1934 courtroom drama by Ayn Rand, the audience takes on the role of the jury. They decide if the defendant is “guilty” or “not guilty”, leading to one of two possible outcomes. If you are looking for an interactive play, check out Dramatic Publishing. They are many.
Audience Involvement in Interactive Theater
Interactive theater invites audience members to step out of their comfort zones and actively engage with the performers and fellow attendees. Whether it’s being called upon to make a crucial decision for the characters, participating in a dance, or having a one-on-one conversation with an actor, the audience becomes an essential part of the storytelling process. Additionally, this level of involvement fosters a sense of community and shared experience among theatergoers.
Unpredictable Endings in Interactive Theater
In interactive theater, the outcome is never predetermined. Audience choices and interactions directly influence the trajectory of the story. Consequently, it is always fun. The secret sauce is the unpredictability which adds an element of excitement and spontaneity to the performance. This keeps both seasoned theatergoers and newcomers on the edge of their seats. The lack of a script for audience participation means that every performance is a fresh and unscripted adventure. Want to learn about another type of theater? Check out: Discovering Melodrama: A Theatrical Adventure for Students
Interactive Theater is Here to Stay
I believe interactive theater is a testament to the evolving nature of the performing arts. It offers a departure from the traditional, inviting audiences to step beyond the role of passive spectator and into the heart of the action. As the boundaries between performer and audience dissolve, the improvisational result is a transformative and unforgettable experience that challenges, engages, and redefines the very essence of live theater. Ever wondered about the pros and cons of teaching improvisation? Check out: What You Know About Improvisation In Theater And What You DON’T Know About Improvisation In Theater
So, the next time you find yourself in the audience of an interactive performance, remember this blog post, Interactive Theater’s Enchanting World and embrace the opportunity to be an active participant in the magic unfolding before you. The stage is set, and you are an essential player in this captivating drama. Have fun! Looking for a free collection of warm up exercises? Click here.
Have you considered having your students practice being interactive characters? That could be lost of fun! What interactive theater have you experienced? I’d love to hear about it. Contact me at DhcBaldwin@gmail.com