PuSh Blog

The Show Must Go On Cast Blog: Adrienne Wong, Jan 20

January 20, 2010

By Adrienne Wong, performer in The Show Must Go On

Hi everyone,

(I found this blog entry in my notebook in my backpack. The last week has gone by so fast – the time between the first run-through (when I wrote my entry) and the first audience (last night). Tonight is opening, so I thought I’d share some thoughts from that last (first) run with some editorial (in parenthesis) from now. A hind-sight is 20/20 sort of approach…)

We did our first run through last night and I had to remind myself that the first run through always sucks. The first run through is when the performers are confronted with the magnitude of the task before them, the demands of the show — precision, energy, concentration. (And the first run through with audience also feels like a disaster, an unwieldy ship on a rough sea. But with hours of rehearsal under our belts we weathered the storm. Dina and Henrique warned us, tried to prepare us, for the audience’s unpredictable behaviour. But faced with 300 people who are dancing, singing, clapping and….)

When we hit the first run through it’s also been some time since we’ve touched on some of the scenes, so I – for one – did get lost and forgot what I was doing. But as Dina say, “this is why we do this.” (I had concentration lapses last night as well, but more in rehearsal before the performance. Everything is so precise, these lapses just can’t happen.) The purpose of the first run through is as much to get to the second run through as it is to discover what you don’t know. (The purpose of the first run with audience is really clear: to find out how the show changes when the other partner enters the room: the unrehearsed audience. And I suspect the show will change significantly from night to night depending on the collective energy and decisions made by the group of strangers who gather in the theatre with us.)

Max and I were chatting in the back of the room during a break in the action about this blog. I said there was a notion forming for me about accessibility – what the audience needs to know to be able to catch on to the ideas in the show. This came up because of our discussion of the music. But there are other theatre conventions that must also be understood . For example: that the audience sits quietly in the house while the performer manifests on stage. Not all theatre and dance around the world is experienced in this way.

I say this to acknowledge that we have, up until this point, been discussing TSMGO from a contemporary Western performance paradigm. In addition to understanding English and the chorus of the songs, in addition to having some sort of relationship the the pop culture movements each song represents, in addition to both of these, the audience members must also understand what a theatre is what it is for. Without this foundation of knowledge, would a person be able to enter into the game of viewer and object that has been set out?

(This last paragraph still holds true from my vantage point of now, post audience. I think also that the use of pop music in the show opens up a space for participation. Pop music belongs to the people, to all of us. As opposed to say, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite which – when performed – belongs to the dancers dancing onstage. We all have our own personal, as well as collective relationships to popular music. And so the performance becomes more welcoming of participation because of the collective relationship to the tunes in the show.)

The Show Must Go On is part of the 2010 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and is presented with SFU Woodward’s and The Dance Centre. Jan 20-23, 2010 at 8:00pm, The Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre, SFU. Click here for full details.