"For the next two minutes and thirty seconds, you are free to do as you please. You may get up and move about freely."
So began a college performance of The NeoFuturists'
play, straight-fowardly entitled Do What You Will
. Most of us watching, being generally disinclined towards public displays of exuberance, felt most at ease remaining shyly in our seats listening to the subtle tirade against conformity. But, envisioning those awkward moments at church when song leaders tell a quiet group to "Sing it like you mean it!", only to find that no quorum is ready to join them - I began to feel sorry for the actors. I started wondering...."What should I do? What would a crowd think of the weird anti-social guy standing up and trying to be creative? What if nobody does anything, and the whole thing flops?"
Thankfully, I didn't have to worry too much about 2 minutes and 15 seconds of awkward audience participation attempts. Two energetic young men sprang up from the audience and chased each other to the midle of the theatre, wrestling and making growling dinosaur noises. The original actors continued their "pre-ordained pattern of behaviour" with good skill, their composure escalating the comical drama. It was really a hoot, and completely outdid other less-convincing attempts at participation! The playful response to the thespians' invitations cast the whole piece in a redeeming light.
The timer went off, the actors issued their final scripted sullen remarks, and I stood up for the intermission that followed. Out in the hallway, one of the boisterous young men was looking awfully sheepish, encircled by several very cross crew members and directors.