Odd Anonymized Needs: Punchdrunk's Masked Spectator

White, Gareth (2009) Odd Anonymized Needs: Punchdrunk's Masked Spectator. In: Modes of Spectating. Intellect, Bristol, pp. 219-229. ISBN 9781841502397


What is the role of the spectator in interactive performance? What is spectatorship in a one-to-one encounter, in the dark, with a performer? What does it mean to be a masked spectator? Punchdrunk takes a peculiar approach to the problem of audience participation, and offers their audiences strange encounters with their work. Spectators are separated and isolated, then released into vast, dark environments; and it is they, not the performers, who are masked. This chapter examines how this intervention into the practice of spectatorship facilitates interaction, and how the mask enables spectators to become performers in ways that might surprise them. It compares this strategy to other contemporary ways of dealing with the failure of theatre to provide an exchange between performer and audience.


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