Interactive Performance Styles

This page will be updated fairly regularly as we make our way through the styles we have worked with in the past, and as we develop new ones. We’re looking to collate as much information as possible, so if you’ve presented an interactive scene and can send in a description of how it worked, or a video from a performance, we’d love to hear from you – you can either post below, or in response to any of the articles, or by emailing us, and we can start to set up a network of interactive performance practitioners.

A big consideration we’ve found in producing interactive performance is the constant exercise in balance, along a couple of axes. There’s a contradiction in involving the audience and attempting to establish and maintain suspension of disbelief. There’s another in aiming to give individuals a significant influence over the performance while attempting to meaningfully involve every audience member. And the more an audience is able to change the course of a story, the more difficult it is to create a moral arc that is satisfying and character outcomes that are supported by what has gone before.

The aim then is always to maximise the returns on both sides of each equation, while minimising the costs in continuity, character development and mood. It’s impossible not to superimpose meaning onto a scene through the addition of interactivity, so it’s vital to choose techniques which complement the action. Hopefully by considering the mechanisms themselves we can identify where certain techniques will have the best return, by engaging the audience in the right way and serving to reinforce the concepts of the script.

Interactive scenes can fall into multiple areas, and of course scenes are possible that don’t fit any of the models below, but these areas are ones we have experience with and we hope it’s a good start. Links will be added as we go.

Scene Types

Treasure Hunt – Audience members explore an environment to discover a series of hidden clues

Adventure Game – Audience members direct characters through a scene towards objectives

Choose Your Own Adventure – Audience members direct a story down one of a number of preset paths

Scene Selection – Like a DVD menu, audience members select snippets of performance to curate a whole production

Walkthroughs – The audience take on pre-scripted roles which they are required to perform, either as characters or by triggering scene elements

Impro and Roleplay – Audience members take on characters, who they may create themselves, who interact with other audience members or actors without specific

Embellishment – Audience members work within a given system to create aesthetic outcomes

Demonstration and Simulation – Audience members contribute to a feat or experiment, assisting its creation and verifying its authenticity

 

Audience Dynamics

Communal – all audience members contribute to an outcome

Dictatorial – while all audience members have the opportunity, only one or few of them take the initiative in interacting

Avatar – one audience member acts as representative for the rest of the audience

Single player – one audience member interacts on their own

Co-op – two or more audience members work in concert

Competetive – two or more audience members work against each other to succeed

 

Relationship of system to audience

Toys – with audience members exploring the system as an end in itself

Tools – with audience members discovering and using the system to provoke a specific outcome

Games – with audience members using skill, with outcomes depending on their success or failure

 

Outcomes

These interactions lead to a few kinds of outcomes:

Causative – driving the onstage action down a pre-set or improvised path

Instructive – demonstrating the characteristics and limitations of a set of rules

Aesthetic – producing a visual or aural outcome as part of an artwork

 

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