Concealed within every human being is an inner light of curiosity that connects us all. In today’s society, that light is slowly beginning to fade. As I commute everyday into the city, I’ve realized how many individuals rely on mobile devises to shield and isolate themselves from each other. It is astonishing how even the most crowded train cars can be entirely absent of communication. What does it take to break down the invisible barriers that shelter us from human interaction? What would happen if our only source of comfort came from strangers sitting beside us?
In their captivating performance, 600 Highwaymen’s The Fever removes the walls between performers and spectators, as well as the walls between the spectators themselves. The Fever brings together friends and strangers and positions them shoulder-to-shoulder in a large, rectangle on the perimeter of the stage. Naturally, I wasn’t sure what to think at first. A sudden rush of anxiety came across my body as I sat there starring at complete strangers, knowing that their eyes were on me as well. Unexpectedly, the first performer, who was disguised as an audience member, began to simply move their hands in a wave-like manner, which broke the tension in the air. One by one, each audience member joined in until we were all moving as a single entity. It was a breathtaking experience. As the show continued, more performers began to emerge from the audience. From one-on-one interactions to full group cooperation, The Fever’s performers used movement, gesture and bits of dialogue, often instructions, to incorporate the spectators throughout the evening.
Along with guided interactions such as taking someone’s hand or making direct eye contact, the performers also requested participation with simple questions like, “Will somebody join me?” and “Will somebody help me up?” These questions allowed the members of the audience to decide for themselves if they wanted to volunteer and participate, or simply watch. Despite being shy at the beginning, the moment I saw more and more individuals participating I became overwhelmed with a sense of interconnectedness and curiosity. I began to feel entirely free from all judgments and criticisms. I realized how quickly relationships could be made by just playing along. At the end of the show the audience returned to silence, and instead of feeling awkward and uncomfortable, I felt completely at ease.