When a was a young’un (well a younger‘un, recently turning twenty has led me to smoke pipes and say “ooh” when I sit down in a comfy chair) any performance that contained an element of audience participation was to me, successful before it had even began. I’m not just talking about panto – I’m even referring to school assemblies…Hearing the words “I’m going to need a volunteer” would (and should) thrill the ears of any child, including me. And recently I’ve been trying to figure out why. For some reason, audience participation was the cherry on the top of the already-existing excitement of any kind of theatrical show. Is it because of a child’s innate passion for the arts, or, (more likely) our natural eagerness to perform?
Either way, things have changed. Now that I’m an old spinster (let’s call it nineteen plus VAT)
I’ve realised that ‘adults’ just don’t possess this enthusiasm anymore. Picture a theatre audience where the average age is 40, and the main protagonist melodramatically lamenting his need for a willing individual to come to his aid. Somehow, the image doesn’t quite mirror one of our youth.
Reading this back, I’m telling myself “Well done Lolly. It’s taken writing a blog about theatre to make you realise that yes, people grow up. Congratulations, here’s your prize, a pat on the back and a satsuma.”
But I just can’t let this go. We seemed to be encouraged to think that this kind of enthusiasm should be culled, and so as we grow older this childlike fascination with becoming a part of the action as gradually minimized until the thought of getting up on stage and interacting directly with the characters is one more of horror than joy.
It seems to me that we’re neglecting our inner performers. I’m not saying that the things we’re focusing more on aren’t important (finance, current affairs and sudoku are all very important) but this bold and adventurous side to ourselves surely shouldn’t be discouraged.
Perhaps it’s just the Peter Pan within me, piping up with advice as old age comes hurtling ever nearer. And yet I can’t help thinking that adventure ignites creativity, and that somehow, there’s always a positive outcome of listening to the garbles of our inner child. Who knows, we might just learn a thing or two.