As a longtime lover of going to shows, including performing in them myself, I like to think I’ve seen it all. But I was so wrong, in the best way possible. Last creativity class, I got to experience a completely new aspect of performance that I never even knew existed: interactive theatre.
The best way to describe interactive theatre is this: You are part of the show. You’re not just an observer, like with traditional theatre. You’re a bystander. And suddenly, if you don’t do anything– if you don’t take action– you’re not an innocent audience member, but someone with responsibility to make a change in the story that unfolds. It gives you the chance to stop and rewind life, to talk to people in honest and open ways you wouldn’t normally be able to. You can fast forward a scene. You can tell a bully to stop victimizing someone, or ask the bully what their perspective is, or become the bully yourself to step in a bully’s shoes!
I think interactive theatre would make a huge difference in middle schools and even high schools, where insecurity and confusion run at an all-time high and the confidence to have open, honest conversations with people of other opinions runs at an all-time low. If I’d been able to discuss things like Do guys actually think it’s more attractive when girls are dumb (answer: who cares), or Why do girls gang up on each other (answer: I still have no idea) or Does my eyeshadow look edgy or trashy? (answer: purple was not my best look but I pulled it off since our high school colors were purple and black, and it went with my cheerleading uniform). In all seriousness, interactive theatre could really, really help. I can’t even describe how many times in my life I wish I could rewind a scene and change something about it.
Interactive theatre allows its audience to do just that. It helps us deal with issues that we don’t regularly confront as easily in “real life.” When we overhear a conversation that makes us angry or comfortable, we don’t tap them on the shoulder and ask them questions about their life story (or at least, I’m too shy to)! When we witness an injustice or feel confused about a topic, it’s difficult to have conversations about it. But we can have those conversations through interactive theatre, and it helps sort out both our thoughts and the thoughts of others. And I am so glad I got to see a wonderful example of interactive theatre in class, which focused on tough themes that are relevant, hot topics today.