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June 21, 2007

3:10 p.m.

by Molly Sheridan

Lynne Conner is up next talking about early reactions to Waiting for Godot. Middle class audiences didn't get it, by and large, but another audience made up of a crowd of prisoners at San Quentin got it, and boy did they, motivated to analyze the work and actively engage with its subject matter.

Audiences historically have been much more involved in performances--to the point of sitting on the stage or making a performer repeat part of a performance they particularly liked. While we're being asked to welcome new levels of audience participation, this is not new and doesn't need to be feared--old audiences were not obscene or misbehaved. But arts organizations, led by orchestras it turns out, started this sacralization of the arts and correct audience behavior. Audiences have lost the opportunity to co-author the performance event, an opportunity sports fans have, which helps them analyze and enjoy the experience. Why not re-democratize the arts experience in this same way? People who can't talk and explore for themselves feel disengaged. People don't want art, but the arts experience.

The crowd is now back to pondering. Same questions as posted below.

Posted by msheridan at June 21, 2007 1:10 PM


When orchestras perform newly composed music it is possible to challenge the age-old concert traditions, and even involve audience participation or interaction between composer, performers and the audience. But orchestras bear also the responsibility of presenting the classical works in ideal listening circumstances, which in my opinion requires certain formality of the occasion. Maybe there can be two contrasting sides to every concert? Or a "challenging" concert series with mainly modern music? Personally I don't believe in revolutionizing the concert format we have had for the past hundred years. I think it is a beautiful tradition and the problem is it stands in contradiction to the fast-paced lives of young people today.

Posted by: Sasha Mäkilä at June 21, 2007 1:39 PM

The problem is that if the concert format is not revolutionized, in short order no one will be sitting in the audience. And then, what's the point?

Posted by: Jeane Goforth at June 27, 2007 1:50 AM

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