Something special about living in New York is that you are guaranteed to never have a moment of silence. As I sit down and write this, the padding of my upstairs neighbors’ children beats above my head like a soft thunderstorm in Brooklyn. Those of us who are lucky enough to live in the loudest city on Earth get used to noise; it becomes part of our lifestyle. It offers us a sort of comfort to know that we are not alone in a world that seems to be more divided every day. The cacophony of New York City becomes the drum line underlining our subconscious. Silence becomes a scary concept; the thought that you cannot hear anything but your own thoughts.
The Fever by 600 Highwaymen creates an artificial silence in an environment that is almost never quiet; theater. In this participation piece, audience members are pulled from their seats and asked to get personal with the actors and fellow spectators. While on stage, at least for a portion of the show, you are at a party. Offstage you are an omniscient spectator looking through at what actors and viewers create together. The show, designed to activate all the senses, begins to feel very personal, catered around the unique experiences that I have had in my life. As the music swells and the actors’ voices get louder, asking broad questions about my humanity, I look around the room, watching others who I assume are also reliving moments of their past. The thought frightened me enough that the gasp that exploded from my mouth came as the screaming of the music crashed into nothing. The Fever makes the audacity of silence powerful effect, as if we are all alone in a room full of people. Pushing theatrical form to its limits by forcing audience members to play the protagonist to their own story, The Fever can be much scarier than playing a character in a play.