Audience Dramaturgy: Your Turn to Ask Questions about PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

By Anne Flinders

One of the traditions at BYU theatre productions is the weekly Thursday night post-show discussion. The post-show discussion is always a great way to get a behind-the-scenes peak at how a play is put together. Any audience members who choose to do so are invited to remain after a play to visit with the cast members and designers and ask them questions about their work.

Director Barta Heiner and playwright Melissa Leilani Larson enjoy a moment during a post-show discussion following a performance of BYU's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.

Director Barta Heiner and playwright Melissa Leilani Larson enjoy a moment during a post-show discussion following a performance of BYU’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.

Last week the first post-show discussion was held for PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, and there was a great turnout. The event was moderated by the production dramaturg, Anne Flinders. Members of the audience asked the cast questions about things like acting choices, their preparation for playing particular characters, and their training in manners and customs for the period and the society the play represents. The designers were asked about their research and choices for their work. Even the audience was asked a few questions about their engagement with the play, and had an opportunity to share bits their experience with this new production with the cast and crew.

As a special treat, Thursday’s post-show discussion included an appearance by the playwright, Melissa Leilani Larson, and the director, Barta Heiner. Audience members took advantage of the opportunity to ask these women about their work, and got some interesting insight into the collaborative process of producing a new work of theatre.

A final post-show discussion is scheduled for Thursday, April 3rd, following curtain call, and will be moderated by BYU’s dramaturgy specialist, Janine Sobeck. Audience members are welcome to stay after the show, and those who may have already seen the play are also invited to return and join in.

We are nearing the close of the run of Brigham Young University’s world premiere of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE adapted by Melissa Leilani Larson. The play is sold out. Stand-by tickets may still be available minutes prior to curtain, but there is no guarantee.

Meeting the Audience

By Janine Sobeck, dramaturg

Now that our opening weekend for The Servant of Two Masters is over, the fun really begins. Not only do the cast and crew really get to settle into their roles, we also get to start hearing feedback from our audience members. Some will be formal in the terms of reviews, while others will be informal discussions with friends, family, and strangers who attended the show.

The ability to talk to our audience really is one of the most fulfilling parts of doing theatre. Not only do we love to hear your thoughts on the show, we love to discover what questions you have about the issues discussed, the process of creation, or anything else that you have on your mind.

Servant_1_300x365One of the ways that we ensure that we will get to hear from our audience is through our post show discussions. These post shows (also called Meet the Company) happen immediately after the Thursday night performances of each production. The audience is invited to stay, the actors come out, and the dramaturg moderates a discussion based on those thoughts and questions that the audience has.

If you’ve never been to a post show, I invite you to attend one for The Servant of Two Masters, which are happening on March 28th and April 4th. If you’re in the audience that night, all you have to do is stick around, and if you’ve seen the show another night, all you have to do is show up around the end of the show (about 9:30) and walk into the theatre. The discussion is free, and always proves to be a fascinating event.

Post Show Discussion

by Ariel Mitchell, Dramaturg

After an amazing performance Thursday night, two of our actors gladly welcomed the audience down to ask members of the cast and crew questions about the production and participate in what we call a post show discussion.

As the dramaturg, I helped to mediate as many actors jumped in eagerly to answer questions about making real people into characters that they could perform every night and the process of writing and devising a piece of theater. I think the audience members who stayed appreciated the insight and context that was given by the actors who finally were able to fill in the story behind the stories that were told on stage. The process is almost as interesting as the product!

Gone Missing poster

I’m glad we had a chance (even in a small way) to help contextualize this performance. If you didn’t have a chance to come to the post show discussion I encourage you to read the previous blog posts or comment on this post with any questions you may have and we will be glad to discuss them!

If you have not yet seen the show (or want to see it again), tickets are still being sold online and at the BYU arts ticket office in the HFAC.

Phantom Talk-Backs

By Nicholas Sheets, dramaturg

Picture this with me. The cast has just left the stage after a triumphant finish. The orchestration is about to play its final score of the night to bid patrons farewell. WAIT! The dramaturg runs out onto stage, “Good evening!” The audience, startled, looks up on stage. “Good evening everyone. We invite you to attend our talk-back session this evening with the actors.” The audience begins to get restless. Are they really going to be able to speak with the Phantom, let alone Christine? What a joy. Once the orchestration ends the dramaturg picks up the mic and the talk-back session begins.

For everyone who isn’t familiar with this term “talk-back,” here is a brief explanation. You, the audience, and me, the dramaturg, destroy the 4th wall that disconnects the actors on stage with the audience.

Last Thursday we had our first talk-back session. It was an excellent experience. Many great questions were posed, as well as nice compliments. Many love this opportunity at BYU to stay after a performance and visit with the actors who have spent so many hours perfecting their art just for you.

Tonight, Thursday the 31st of January, we will be holding our final talk-back session with the Phantom cast. If you aren’t attending this show then you can still arrive at 10:00 p.m. to sit with those brave enough to participate. Whether or not you want to actually pose a question you may still come and observe. I’m sure you’ll leave the Phantom talk-back session with a few things to consider and a better appreciation for all the hard work that went into the production.

Expect photos to come from tomorrow’s talk-back session!

Thanks everyone!