Deserving audience

by  Anne-Lorraine Selke

A game about telling your audience how to receive you well. Reframes the conception that a performer has to win over the audience. Instead, the audience gets to win over the shy performer.

Ask who in the group has something they don't yet feel comfortable sharing with the group. Tell them they won't need to share it at any point. Their task is to use the audience for their own experimentation. They arrange the audience in different ways and tune into when they feel sharing seems easier or harder.

The task of the audience is to follow the instructions of the person arranging them into a worthy audience. They can suggest ideas if invited by the shy performer. The game is more entertaining and instructive if the shy performer shares what they're thinking and experiencing as they rearrange the audience.

Some of the things the shy performer can play with:

  • How far away is the audience?

  • Are they at eye-level, further up or down, kneeling, raised, standing straight?

  • Where do they face? Are they fully visible or (partially) hidden?

  • What's their intention in listening? Who are they listening as?

  • What are they wearing?

  • Are they moving around? Do they wobble? How tense are their bodies?

  • Is the audience a group, a collection of dispersed individuals?

  • What are their postures, their gestures, their facial expression?

  • If the arranger shared their story, how should the audience react?

Ask the shy performer to not share their secret, even if the audience is really tempting, at least the first time you play this game. The emotional impact of the shy performer sharing their secret might overshadow the subtle exploration of what it means to be a deserving audience to this person. Not sharing the secret gives you space to debrief what it was like to arrange and be arranged.

Did a few rounds? Try this variation: Play several rounds of deserving audience where different shy performers take turns arranging the audience (but do not share yet),. Ask which shy performers would like a chance to share. For each, the audience gets back into position as previously instructed. The shy performer shares at their own pace. After each secret is revealed, take some time to let it sink in, honour it, and debrief. Repeat until all secrets are known.