The Essence of Industrial Theatre

Yesterday we performed to our first audience of about 600 petrol pump attendants and cashiers. Today is our second show here in Cape Town and then the show goes around the country, performing in all the major centres.

I always need to see how the audience respond; they are who I have in mind from the very beginning. When coming up with a concept, before writing the script, you have to have the target audience clearly in sight. Who are they? What are their points of reference? Do they watch TV? What are their influences?

Industrial theatre often has to sit between what the client (the boss, who signs it off and pays for it) wants and what the target audience (most often the workers) will benefit the most from. It’s a bit of a balancing act that doesn’t always happen the way you imagine it will. It’s also about picking your fights; knowing which ones you’ll win and which ones you’ll just have to let go. Still, it’s great to work in an area of business where I have the theatrical expertise.

Yesterday it felt like the audience was listening really hard, which is good. The cast were nervous; it’s quite a thing performing to such a huge crowd after rehearsing in a tiny room. I can’t wait to see if everything ‘lights’ up today.

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