Monday, February 7, 2011

Interviewing the Audience **

The Vineyard Theater is presenting L.A.-based screenwriter/director Zach Helm in a theatrical curiosity inspired by a work that Spalding Gray performed for several years. Zach inteviews three audience members for about 20 minutes each. In some sense, there is little point in reviewing the event since each performance is different. Nevertheless, I will describe the performance I attended. Helm chose three men to interview -- a college student, a middle-aged man and a senior citizen. Each interview began with the question "What brought you here today?" From that point, the interviews headed off in different directions. The college student realized that his "major" had in effect chosen him. The second man has a husband and three children that they are raising in a complicated network of six parents. The retiree has a son he broke ties with and an adopted son with special needs that he has worked hard to provide for. Helm knitted the interviews together with the question of whether we choose our lives or discover the lives we have chosen. Helm's interviewing technique is deceptively low-key. He managed to demonstrate that everyone has a story. Whether you will find it entertaining depends on how interested you are in the lives of others.


Anonymous said...

This sounds fascinating, Bob. How interested were you in the lives of these individuals? How were the interviewees selected? How big was the audience?

Keep up the great work!


Bob said...

Thanks, Sue. I didn't find the college student that interesting. I was fascinated by the complexities of the group parenting arrangements of the gay man and very touched by the retired doctor's story of his arrangements for his special needs adopted son. The interviewer stepped off the stage and walked along the aisle and picked someone before each interview. I would love to know what he was looking for. It would be interesting to see it a second time to get a better feel for how he manages to find people with such interesting stories.

Marcia said...

How would you feel if you were picked? Do you think most people attend looking for their 15 minutes of fame? It sounds like a documentary but much more ephemeral.

Anonymous said...

I felt conflicted between being afraid to be picked and wanting to. Maybe that tension is part of the attraction.