We are lucky in New Zealand. Most cabaret burlesque shows can be seen with the naked eye. What I mean by this is that we are so close to the performers, generally we can see their expressions with out the use of binoculars or the like. We can see exactly what they are doing and it is an intimate affair. The audience feels included and no one should feel excluded. As a performer, I find these shows fun, seeing the expressions of the audience as I disrobe and gauging their reactions.
Last year I went to Caberet De Paris at the Civic Theater in Auckland, as an audience member . Now I knew this theater was bigger than what I am used to and that I should have brought my pair of binoculars – that was acceptable; it was a huge production running over many nights. It was spectacular with it’s feather adornment and glitzy showgirls. I watched in amazement as the crew bounced, danced and slid across the stage. I loved the fact there were men in this crew; and not necessarily ones that performed burlesque.
However, I craved intimacy, expression and longed for the familiarity of the shows I have been in and attended. Don’t get me wrong; I loved the show and the acts, – it was truly brilliant; but it was a telling moment for me – go above and beyond to get the audience involved: and not just the ones in the first few rows at every show you are in. There is a reason why we are taught to do “Big face with Big movements”.
Aside from personal ego massaging, the audience is the very reason we perform and they are entitled to be entertained and included. The bigger the audience the harder this is to do.
My advise: Spend a lot of time preparing your acts, even if you have performed them for years. Consider Mr and Mrs Smith, sitting 100 seats away, at the back in the darkness. Consider Mr and Mr Beige sitting in the wing seats to your left and right. Play to that audience dam it. Show them a good time, that’s what they have come to see. Audience numbers are irrelevant when you are a performer – you do your own sweet best and preserve your performing persona.
From an audience members perspective? Each show is different to the one before. Attend loads of shows to mitigate a familiar feel of one show type – each one has it’s own features for you to feast your naked eyes upon.