Last week Ilana mentioned (or was it the week before?) a play being performed in Taxis for an audience of one or two people, which I thought was super cool, but I didn’t realize until I heard this story that Intimate Theater was like a “thing”! I stumbled upon this article and adjoining audio story on npr.org that mentioned the “taxi theatre” in Melbourne, but also described dramas in offices, elevators, hotel rooms and theaters built just for two in Sydney, Edinburgh, New York and London. I think this is SO interesting. Audiences seemed to react positively to this type of theatre, saying the experience felt intimate and intense. One guy said he forgot he was watching an actor perform a monologue, and had the impulse to ask him questions about his story.
I have many reactions to this new type of theatre. Firstly, I think that intimacy and connection could be incredible. Something I enjoy about film is the intimacy that can be achieved with the proximity of the camera and this type of theatre wouldn’t have the removal of the 3rd wall OR a TV screen. I also imagine that having the audience a few feet from the actor would keep the actor on their toes, not let them “check out” mentally. I guess the same probably goes for the audience; no napping or discreetly playing words with friends.
One fear I had was that Intimate Theatre might lose the community of the audience, the shared experience. There can be something magical about going for a journey with an entire house of people. I imagine, though, that connection might happen on a smaller scale, and in this case between actor and audience member. One woman, Sarah Jane Norman, is doing a one-on-one piece where she leads an audience member into a dark space lit with fairy lights, lies down with them and spoons them silently. I guess you can’t get much closer than that. Some critics said her work was too touchy-feely to be theatre; it was too much like a therapy session. I think that if theatre reminds an audience to feel, it’s doing its job.