Join the action at Fringe Festival’s participatory plays

Be both audience and actor in "The Quiet Volume." Credit: Lorena Fernandez
Be both audience and actor in “The Quiet Volume.”
Credit: Lorena Fernandez

For many theatergoers, the mere words “audience participation” are enough to induce a cold sweat and a search for the nearest exit. Theatre maker Ant Hampton’s shows largely avoid that anxiety by making the performers comprise the entire audience and vice versa, via a technique he refers to as “autoteatro.” In “Etiquette,” which was part of the 2008 Live Arts festival, two participants were fed lines through a headset while seated in a coffeeshop; “The Quiet Volume,” in this year’s rechristened FringeArts fest, two people are given instructions via recorded whispers and written words while paging through books at the Free Library.

“The difference between autoteatro and what people are commonly scared of in terms of participation is that with autoteatro there’s nobody around who knows what should be happening,” Hampton says. “If you make a mistake or you’re feeling self-conscious, you know there’s nobody looking at you thinking, ‘Thank god it’s not me.’ Therefore there’s more charm to it than cruelty.”

Several shows in the FringeArts line-up call on audience members to become part of the show, though not all of them are quite so intimate. In “The Living Newspaper: On Location,” Liz Magic Laser calls on viewers to join with actors to stage reenactments of the day’s newspaper headlines. Comedian Matt Holmes chooses a different partner from the crowd each night to co-star in an improv show in “Matt&.” And Nichole Canuso Dance Company’s “The Garden” commingles audience and performers in a self-guided journey prompted by an individual soundscape, leaving visitors largely alone to explore on their own terms.

For Hampton, “The Quiet Volume” was inspired by the act of reading a book, a solo pursuit suddenly made into a duo performance. “Reading a book can be seen in a way as a dramaturgical now,” he explains. “When you’re reading there’s a sort of present being conjured, something happening right in front of you that develops on and over the pages as you’re reading.”

Like “Etiquette,” the new show also plays on the tension between private and public space, as the small-scale performance unfolds in an open library during regular hours, surrounded by people going about their normal business. “Once you start reading you enter into your own hermetic bubble of concentration. Anyone who’s spent any time in the library knows what it’s like to come up for air from reading a book and realize where you are. In this piece, what’s strange is that this bubble of concentration is pierced and leaks into the bubble of the person beside you. This is quite an unusual, maybe even perverse experience.”

“The Quiet Volume”
Sept. 7-22
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine St., $15

“The Living Newspaper: On Location”
Sept. 11-12
Plays & Players Theatre
1714 Delancey Place, $29

“Matt&”
Sept. 12-15
Mainstage at the Adrienne
2030 Sansom St., $12-$15

“The Garden”
Sept. 13-21
The Basement at the Power Plant Productions
230 N. 2nd St., $20

215-413-1318
www.fringearts.com



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Class action against Facebook attracts 60,000 users

A law student said his class action suit against Facebook for alleged privacy violations has the support of 60,000 users and passed its first legal review.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…

Local

Mugger uses chokeholds in Central Park attacks: NYPD

Cops are searching for a Manhattan mugging suspect tied to at least two attacks near Central Park this week.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

Television

TV watch list, Thursday, Aug. 21: 'Simpsons,' 'Simpsons'…

It's time to change the channel to FXX, and then never change it again, as you watch all the "Simpsons" episodes you can handle.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…