AUDIENCE RESPONSE

[ONE]

1. What did you expect before the salon and what did you actually experience?

I'd say I expected some kind of performative installation experience, and that's more or less what I saw. I think I maybe expected a more curated audience path.

2. Were the rules of the environment clear to you?

The rules seemed pretty clear: wander around, choose a character/performer to observe. Observe by watching, touching things that say touch, responding verbally. Rules for each individual character area seemed to be different and it was enjoyable to try and decipher them. It felt like a puzzle.
The greatest uncertainty was not knowing how much interaction was permitted. Some areas gave strong signals that interaction was discouraged or severely limited, while others clearly described a verbal or physical interaction.

3. How did the other audience members inform your experience?

I watched someone else start the dialogue with Nils. I hadn't noticed the script or I did and didn't think I should make the leap to talking to him. I enjoyed hanging around, having been maybe the first person in, and watching other audience members react to and discover each scene. Eventually as the room filled up everyone felt more comfortable talking to each other, which was neat but I think detracted from the observation.

4. What was the story?

A week later, I don't remember a lot about story. But I also know that even the day after I wouldn't have been able to say more than that some of the characters knew each other or shared a last name. The setup encouraged me to look for clues and try to understand connections - I was drawn to Emma's corner with the threads connecting pictures of the other characters, but felt that the trail either went cold at some point or that there really wasn't a lot to piece together. I kept trying to figure out how to activate Paula's scene, but then it seemed like it was not supposed to activate any further.

Please feel free to list any additional comments or questions:

I felt the experience was strong, I was curious throughout and kept looking for more things to discover. At some point I felt let down that new information didn't really seem to come about. Nils's station became the most popular as the room filled, especially because so many of the audience members are actors and actors love to draw attention - the invitation to act like an actor is impossible to resist.

Chris's station was kind of thrilling because he was clearly genuinely cold, and because hamburger hill on the I-5 was visible behind him. There was the added danger that security or anyone could drive past at any moment. It was disappointing that his writing was not readable, that the whole mess of paper and envelopes was decorative.

I enjoyed that each character-station seemed to have its own rule, but I also felt that I as an audience member was not given a role. I didn't know who I was, or why I was looking around. I never ceased being a fellow student watching friends' work. The installation reminded me a lot of Sleep No More, the big Macbeth/Hitchcock installation performance in NYC. That piece is on a much different scale, but one element they really nailed was giving the audience a clear role. Everyone wears masks, no one is allowed to speak. Those limitations actually really encouraged "playing along," and the mystery became as much about who you were as who the characters were.

My final note is that the ending was great, suspenseful and interesting. Everyone was in good spirits after the performance was done, and it really just needed to go that next level and become a genuine party. Something sneaky and unsanctioned to let everyone enjoy having spent a bunch of time together in one room. The energy was really strong and when you manage to have that effect on an audience it's sad to see it dissipate.

[TWO]

1. What did you expect before the salon and what did you actually experience?

Before the first salon, I wasn't really sure what a "salon" was in this context... but I pictured a turn of the century tea party with people performing in some way. I found out that the performances were designed for only one person at a time, which excited me because I've never had that experience before. I hadn't formally RSVP'd, though, so I was worried I wouldn't be allowed to see it! Anyway, upon arrival I felt very concentrated on what I perceived to be a system of etiquette surrounding the performance. I was careful not to impose myself on Meg, the stage manager, and wanted to remain very humble about not having reserved my turn to see the show. When I was given the green light to go through, I suddenly felt very nervous, and upon entering into the space, I was immediately affected by Paula's character, who stood ghostlike upon the threshold. She led me, in character and in costume, to a sitting room. The decor of the space was stunning. I was affected by both the moody lighting choices and the period set dressing; these elements truly transported me and I forgot I was in BB2. Also, my purse felt stupidly gigantic and gaudy. I felt really self-conscious that I wasn't in costume, too! In the room with Paula, I wanted to be very careful so as to not catch her off-guard. I could easily see how a selfish actor/audience member might try make the scene about themselves and over-engage her in improvised conversation, leading her away from her text. I only wanted to listen to what she wanted to tell me, so I tried to answer her as neutrally as possible. I was trying very hard not to fuck that up!  

Then Amanda's character appeared and the two began discussing family matters of great importance. They seemed to be getting emotional over something (I was trying my best to follow.. I believe they were talking about "Papa," Paula's father), and then Amanda's character seemed to retreat hastily from the conversation and fled down the hall. Paula got up to follow, turned back and gave me a truly haunting, oddly sorrowful glance, and then disappeared. I wasn't sure what I was meant to do-- follow her? I sensed people moving around in the space but I couldn't tell where I was supposed to be. I felt very alone without a guide and uncomfortable. I wasn't sure what I was meant to explore, and I didn't want to do something wrong and ruin the scene! I crept up to an open door with blue light and saw the image of a person, and then another person crossed between us and I hesitated, not sure if I was meant to go inside. Before I could decide, the hallway scene was upon me. I quietly stepped aside, feeling very much like I was in the way of a lover's tiff, and not wanting to be seen. Chris and Amanda had a beautiful scene, and then I followed Amanda down the hall. I passed Paula praying in what resembled a small chapel, and it was a beautiful image. I lingered there for a second to see if something was going to happen, but then I saw that Amanda was already in her next scene. That scene was perhaps the most uncomfortable because it seemed to intimate in that cozy room, on a that divan, as the cousins cuddled. They were cousins, right? At first I thought they were married, then I thought I put it together that they were family. I was also trying to draw on my knowledge of the plot, haha. Anyway, I think I held my breath throughout the whole scene, because the thought of them hearing me standing there just watching them was mortifying! 

After that scene, I wasn't sure where to go. The door to outside was open, but I was hoping it wasn't really over! I lingered for a moment, then finally exited, still wondering if perhaps I was missing something, then I heard Alexis should "re-set"! and I knew I had been released from the world. 

At the second salon, I was excited to return to the peculiar, hauntingly beautiful aesthetic of the world of Portrait. I arrived at 9:30. Upon entering, there was so much to see! I had a hard time deciding what to look at first. First I saw Emma's character drawing portraits of audience members while blindfolded. I wanted to be drawn, but first I felt I had to experience the room. I never got back to her in time before the salon was over, though. I then watched Amanda, who was moving in a very strange way. She seemed to be in pain, or distress, and kept repeating gestures that seemed harmful, like running into the wall. I wanted to know what was going on with her. Then I went into the sound room and was there for a few years or so. I decided I never wanted to leave. I just sat there in the dark, listening, while my wild brain conjured incredible scenes to accompany the radio sounds, the music, and the spoken text. I think I cried, but I don't remember why. 

 When I finally left the sound booth, the rest of the room seemed overwhelming again. I wanted to see everything and devour it as quickly as possible, but everyone was so engaging that it took me a long time. I watched Chris outside, but somehow I understood that I wasn't meant to go out there, I was just meant to watch from the frame of the doorway. That made sense. I saw Nils saying his text to a figure who was lying in an upright bed against the wall. I loved the staging of that. It was delightfully strange, and I believe the figure's arms were branches? Or perhaps they were operated by branches, like a puppet. I think an audience member was reading the lines from a scene with Nils. If that's really what was happening, that is really brilliant. I want to know more about that idea, and maybe see it explored further. Then I saw Erica doing a dance in a scene consisting of a lot of patriotic paraphernalia. That looked really interesting but I didn't get over there to see what was happening. I saw A'relle in the glass box. She looked like she was in a museum, like the Museum of Natural History. When an audience member taps a certain spot, she acts out a line of text. It was a really striking image of a woman behaving like an electronic robot behind glass. I heard Paula was somewhere beyond a peephole in the corner but I didn't make it to her. I was watching Fernando when he deliberately stood up unplugged the lights of his scene, which made me realize that all of the performers were unplugging their lights simultaneously, and the space plunged into darkness. It was confusing at first until we realized that something was happening. Amanda approached a box in the center of the room and tore it open, revealing multiple layers of different materials, until finally reaching the center which was a bright hot light source. It illuminated her and the room and made a really stunning final image. Then the work lights flicked on and the experience was officially over. I loved Salon 2, I wish I could have gotten to spend a lot more time looking at all the vignettes, but I'm glad I was there for the ending. 

That's all I have to say for now, but let me know if you have questions that are more specific!

[THREE]

1. What did you expect before the salon and what did you actually experience?

I went the night of the promenade experience (last week). I had no idea what to expect except that it was an individually scheduled experience -- could have been a show to a single person, a one-on-one encounter, or a walk-through experience.

I talked with folks hanging outside (people who had already done the event and wanted to talk about it?) before my appointment, then watched two people exit who were really happy about what they'd encountered; they also  treated their experience as a secret that I would soon be privy to.

I entered after a flurry of discussions btw Meg and Alexis about whether the actors were ready, etc.

I met Paola's character and was invited into a room (invited by her). I believe she asked me to take a seat, and I quickly had to decide whether the bench was appropriate or the chair. I chose the bench.

When she spoke to us I felt comfortable responding to the first question but not the rest -- as if there was no response to give, or no permission given to answer. It feels like this is the delicate balance that a piece with one-on-one (or at least one-on-few) audience interaction has to find.

Once she left the room, I followed her - I was comfortable doing this, I think because she invited me into the room in the first place.

Then I lost her in the maze, saw Emma through a door sitting in a chair, turned back to follow Paola, couldn't find her -- and then when I turned back to see if Emma had a scene, the door was closed. I was confused as to whether I had permission to open the door and see if there was a scene to happen, but at that point Chris and Amanda started their interaction.

I was bothered from this point on with the idea that I'd lost/missed a scene with Emma in it; which brings up an interesting point as to how much of a promenade performance is obscured -- as an audience should you feel that you saw all of it, or that you saw only a few pieces of a much larger whole?

From Chris and Amanda's scene, I gathered that perhaps we were in a different era/period than the earlier scene -- the earlier one with Paola and Amanda felt more medieval, this felt more renaissance (perhaps it was Chris's cowl -- or am i making that up?). I started to piece together an idea that the woman portrayed by Paola in scene 1 is the same woman portrayed by Amanda in scene 2 - either displaced in time or connected thematically.

After scene 2 ended, I followed (I think?) Amanda into scene 3 with Nils. The audience relationship was interesting here -- but I kept wondering through the scene whether I had permission to walk around the settee and watch from the corner of the room (by the side table with the lamp on it). Being a polite audience member by nature and having been given a bench to sit on that signified 'sit here' (reinforced by its similarity to the bench in sc1), I stayed where I was.

The idea of a woman displaced in time was reinforced in scene 3. Based on furniture, interaction and setup I figured the period was more modern, perhaps 1930s.

Before leaving I stuck my head into Paola's little shrine area -- this was the only time I felt like a voyeur, like I wasn't welcome. I left the maze soon after that.

2. Were the rules of the environment clear to you?

Yes, unless i missed some. I could talk to the actors if prompted, I could follow them around; I didn't feel comfortable opening doors or manipulating objects. I also didn't feel comfortable getting out of my seat or moving around unless prompted (I couldn't leave a scene in progress, for example).

3. How did the other audience members inform your experience?

There was one other with me, and he didn't really register in my experience -- I knew vaguely that he was there, but we had no interaction and there was no interaction between him and the actors that was idfferent than mine.

4. What was the story?

A woman displaced in time, or a single life seen through the lens of different ages; first, her relationship to her father(?) - love and confusion(?), tempered by the influence of an older woman, second her relationship to a passionate man, one who has idealized her; third, her establishment of independence from a third man, one based on reason and logic. Sorry I don't remember much anymore, it was a couple of busy weeks ago .

Please feel free to list any additional comments or questions:

are you having a salon this friday?

[FOUR]

1. What did you expect before the salon and what did you actually experience?

i had no idea what to expect before the first salon. i was expecting the second salon to be something like the first, but was surprised and delighted  to see yet another departure/exploration. its nice to be surprised with a new construct each time.

2. Were the rules of the environment clear to you?

generally, i felt that both salons established rules clearly and effectively, the second salon in particular. because the space was public, i felt less responsibility over the performers and could roam with confidence and comfort. the little barriers and white tape on the floor separating some of the performers from the audience may have felt silly for a moment but i think proved necessary in making the boundaries of the space clear to more energetic audience members who may feel inclined to over-interact with or invade performers.

the first salon was trickier and at moments i felt lost but i think just the right amount of lost. i do think a brief disclaimer at the door (ex. "we ask that you do not move any major set pieces and remain within the marked area...) would have given me just a little more confidence as an audience member. 

because no "rules" were disclosed at either salon i was forced to trust my intuition and to set my limits based on my impression of the space and the tone of the performers. i felt that my instincts guided me through the experiences in a really positive way and enjoyed both salons immensely. however, i am concerned that without the rules being laid out beforehand, some audience members may have difficulty aligning their limits with those of the performers. 

3. How did the other audience members inform your experience?

I went through the first salon with a group of 3 other people. this made it more difficult to get the "full effect" of the performances but found that the work was so strong that i almost began to feel as if i were there alone. having other opinions on whether or not we should leave a room or follow someone clouded my own judgement/intuition and we found ourselves having to cram into rooms. regardless, the quality of the work and the intrigue of the space was extremely compelling and created an intimate and unforgettable experience. quality transcends.

4. What was the story?

i don't really know. i haven't really sensed a cohesive narrative forming and i haven't necessarily felt the need for one. the first two salons stood on their own as glimpses into the world and process and i don't think they necessitated a narrative structure. i feel that i'm beginning to understand the characters/world or at least to gain an impression of them. 

i think the first salon was very effective in setting a tone for the world. a dark, fuzzy, dreamy space where one feels lost, tempted and restricted by convention and expectations. where something is missing, as if the thing that holds it all together is invisible. a haunted reality that the living share with ghosts.

the second salon served as an introduction to the characters. by offering individual portraits of each and in equal measure, i've begun to connect with some, despise others, and to identify as a kind of character aswell.