The Fever's Visceral Effects
What makes theatre unique is the visceral connection of live performer to live audience that cannot be replicated through any other medium. By relating to the senses a live performance invokes a deep sense of understanding, of empathy, and of storytelling all of which resonate in the bodies of the spectators.
I often equate visceral with physical. A physical response is what often results in a visceral experience (crying, laughing, chills up your spine, etc.). What isphysical then becomes movement. Moving through space has an effect on the physical molecules and atoms that surround our bodies. Crying moves our faces into shapes that causes those around us to have physical reactions in the form of movement.
When a performance literally evokes movement in its audience, it is doing it’s job. Under the Radar’s The Fever did this with honor and elegance. By getting the audience in the room to participate, the show mirrored and amplified the actor/audience relationship with a series of movements that the audience can either choose to follow or not.
You see someone yawn, you yawn. You see someone wave their hand, you wave too. You see someone jump off a bridge, and if they ask you, you go as well. Because if they’re doing it, it can’t be all that bad. What better way to create trust than to include the audience in the story themselves?
By asking the audience “will you do this” instead of forcing the audience to, the cast of The Fever ssumes the audience has agency over their own decisions and their own physical and visceral experiences. This is the mark of a true theatrical experience.