Here's my scratch feedback for you (the same as I emailed)
Emer Scratch Feedback
As an audience member watching a volunteer take the position of a homeless person I felt very much engaged. The fact that any of us could have volunteered to read the script for something we didn’t know outcome of, I thought was a very honest metaphor for that actually, homelessness can happen to anyone; any one of us here in this room. This was very powerful.
Something I think would help the piece a lot stronger would be volume and energy of the performer already onstage. (I know this is purely a scratch-related thing). There is a danger of not knowing who the participant is, and therefore it is the job of the other performer to set the tone for how to read the script. Obviously for the volunteer, it would be very nerve-wracking for them sight-read the script and deliver in front of an audience, however I wasn’t sure whether you were supposed to be “acting” the persona you gave yourself or whether you were just reading out the script. Did you use a script for yourself to frame the piece in a theatrical way or do you not intend to have it for the final performance? Then again it probably makes sense for both performers to have a script so the volunteer feels more at ease. Perhaps the use of script can be gestured to in some way?
Have you had any thoughts on how you will get to this scene? I feel like the piece might be strong if you acknowledged your own struggles with the ethics of the piece and that because of this, you have come up with this participation device. This might be a bit meta, but could be something to think about. (If there’s something Pcomp has taught me, its rather than awkwardly try to tackle something in the performance, just address it and use it)
What was also very effective was the automated voice reading the questionnaire. Was this supposed to represent the way the volunteer was reading it in their mind? A way they perceive the system of being cold-hearted/inhuman? Or was it something that was audible in the room itself? It had a bittersweet feeling of being clinical and yet what the questions it was asking were sensitive and almost upsetting, which juxtaposed nicely with the tone of voice, making it funny. Even the way “homeless” was pronounced was both heartless yet amusing. Great tool!
I do feel that when I had read the script myself in unsupervised practice I felt a lot more invested in the piece. It was good to now have the experience of both roles and I think the more effective is being the volunteer. Perhaps something that could heighten this for the audience would be to set the stage in a way that feels more like an emergency shelter? That way the audience feel slightly more immersed? Or even having a voice over reading out the stage directions “Sam (was his name Sam) looks nervously round the room, feeling anxious and wanting to leave” so there’s another layer to which the audience understand this character? This might also put the volunteer at ease a bit more?
This was very fun and having to work together was very engaging. I felt happiness in the failure of being able to complete the task. I’m not sure if this is related to the homelessness theme, if so, I read the eggs as a metaphor for trying to find your way back home (to the egg box), but a bunch of external factors may mean you might not make it, some things are out of your control (getting dropped). This kind of collective participation worked very well and I felt more invested in this piece because I had a responsibility in making the piece work; I needed to be there and we needed to support each other.
Have you thought about involving more people in the first experiment in some way? Maybe making the audience form a queue, giving them each a piece of script that they read in line, and then they deliver a particular line at the table? They could all be the same character if you want to focus on one story. Just an idea.
Overall, I really enjoyed both experiments and think they engage the audience in different ways – which method do you think you are leaning more towards?
Hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions / want to chat further!