Saturday, 2 April 2011


I prepare a questionnaire in advance of the performance to gather audience feedback. I buy pens and put the questionnaires out on seats so they can’t miss them and have no excuse not to complete the questions!

It’s like setting an exam after the performance. I actually feel rather cruel putting the audience through this and surprised that so many are filled out. I think the way that the seating is configured actually makes it impossible to leave the theatre if someone on the row decides to stay seated.

The majority of feedback is positive, though there are clearly a few who do not take to the work but that’s to be expected I think. Apparently (and I can’t remember where I read this bad) you can count on 30% of your audience not liking the work.

At Bradford Theatre in the Mill there was a comment that really worried me where folk didn’t seem to be aware that Arnold was/is a fully grown man. So, in the feedback I ask what the ages of the characters are. I needn’t have worried. Amusingly most people get Arnold’s age (40) almost spot on.

The questionnaire also asks what the audience are hearing – I’m keen to get feedback on audience’s interpretation of the soundtrack – perhaps they’ll make sense of it in a different way to me and help me find new possibilities. The responses show that our intentions are clear, new possibilities? Not quite as I hoped. Maybe more probing is required? Or maybe I need to spend some time thinking through my own ideas for possibilities.

Terry O’Connor from Forced Entertainment and Iain Bloomfield from Bradford Theatre in the Mill are in the audience and afterwards I go out into the foyer to have a discussion with them and hear their thoughts on the piece.

Iain says ‘you can give people more time speaking, be braver, let them say more’ – only now typing this comment do I suddenly get a jolt of inspiration about this…(I am keeping my inspiration schtum for now though – don’t want to give away all my secrets) at the time I didn’t process the comment (possibly due to adrenaline after the performance). Iain also feels that sonic difference between the voices would help pin them down to individuals, he says it took a while for his ears to adjust. I have lots of ideas about sound so this steer is welcome.

Iain really likes that I’ve held back on resolution/revelation, he feels that the audience will read what they like into it and will have a far richer experience of it in their own imaginations than with a prescribed resolution. Thank goodness someone understands my tendency for (apparently) ‘unfinished’ work…

Iain also notices the Beckettian feel to the work (I get this reference more than once for this showing actually…) which is a total compliment. I am so pleased I stood by my directorial vision and insisted on working back to the piece’s original intention/tone. I feel I’ve really achieved what I wanted to.

Iain suggests that compressing the space will give an even more Beckettian sense of claustrophobia. I really like this idea.

Terry joins us and I outline the process of making the work for her. Then we go back to feedback/comments.

Both Terry and Iain are agreed that paring back so much so that the focus is on minutia means that subtle becomes big. Therefore it’s not necessary to underline emotion as much as we have been doing. Finding the least we can get away with will be more interesting. Terry feels that faces and eyes are enough, she asks how the piece would feel if the performers just stood still.

Terry is very interested in the device and is/was surprised when the characters/performers don’t speak. Terry asks if representation of reality is really necessary? The reality of the setting goes against the unreality of the device. Terry thinks that it could be formally stricter with separate vision and sound.

I consider myself very fortunate to have had this feedback and my imagination is considerably stimulated by it. Within a few minutes I feel that my creative vision and practice has moved forward very significantly.

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