Previously at the ICA - Events

The Epic and the Intimate

1 Jul 2010

Audiences are perhaps becoming suspicious of the formality of traditional theatre: the silent watching, the inability to interact with what is on stage, the expected applause at the end. Intimate or immersive work seems by contrast to allow the audience to own and edit the narrative, to create an experience, a journey, rather than an event. In recent years we have seen a proliferation of intimate, one-on-one encounters such as Adrian Howells’ Foot washing for the Sole as well as immersive events like those created so successfully by Punchdrunk. With immersive theatre, the audience may experience it alone or in groups but it encourages a sense of exploration, a feeling in its audience that they are curating their own experience in their own time, in an order that they choose.

However such intimate theatre is asking the audience to be quite vulnerable, to risk potential embarrassment or, by virtue of making the 'wrong' choices, an unfulfilling experience; is there a danger that will limit the audience to the moneyed and confident? Furthermore, as the spectre of public funding cuts looms, is this type of work financially sustainable; is it value for the public’s money?

Chaired by Guardian's theatre critic, Lyn Gardner, we examine whether the power and value of theatre is intrinsically linked to the spectacular and collective moment or whether it can be just as powerful experienced alone? Speakers include artist Adrian Howells and David Jubb, co-artistic director of BAC.

This is the second of four LIFT Debates that form part of LIFT Club at the ICA. These debates aim to explore our new relationship with theatre in the company of international theatre makers, critics and commentators.

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