Friday, October 19, 2007


We talked a lot in class today about panoptic structures, but we only touched on how these affect performer and viewer.

As a performer, I know I am being watched (or at least there is that potential.) Usually, I can only see a few audience members, if any, but I know they are there watching. In that sense, it must be like being in a cell in the panopticon, albeit with a difference of intention. I am performing because I choose to, the prisoner or patient or pupil does not have a choice.

I think for the most part, the audience is happy when they are invisible; it is comfortable to observe without being noticed. I equate this to the popular past time of people-watching. I feel perfectly at ease staring at interesting people until they stare back. As an audience member, my invisibility has been a comfort; I could yawn, roll my eyes, fall asleep, smile, laugh, cry and keep these actions more or less to myself. Even when I have been asked to participate in the performance by reading, waving, or closing my eyes, I do not feel highly visible because of the structure of the stage.

1 comment:

Janet said...

Interesting - reminds me of our class discussion in Comp, and how many of us enjoyed particular pieces based on the reactions of the audience around us. I think it's interesting to consider that a time when apparently all people are engrossed in observing one action (aka theater, etc.) leaves us feeling safely unobserved. When truly that is not necessarily the case. But because we ourselves are engrossed in observing the activity, we perhaps don't notice others who observe us (like someone in the park who looks back), and so we FEEL unobserved.

Also, is it more comfortable because of the distance between audience and performer? They "can't" observe us? Is that why breaking the fourth wall can seem so invasive and uncomfortable?