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Instead of passively enjoying theater, why not participate? Why not crawl into the skin of the characters yourself? Doesn’t that make for a more engrossing experience? These must have been Ant Hampton’s thoughts while devising his Autoteatro works: performances in which the unwitting audience plays the part and makes it happen – according to script, yes, but who knows what a script can do in the hands of the unaware?
Etiquette happens in various cafés and is played by two people. Each receives instructions through headphones as well as shreds of a story, including references to Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. In about half an hour you will have sped along death, romance and the stage in a way that feels somehow your own, even if you’re merely carrying out orders. You never know what’s next, and shut off from your surroundings you will find yourself wondering, at least once, if the other barflies aren’t in on it. As both spectator and participant, it’s sometimes hard to follow exactly what’s going on.
OK OK is a play for four, in which you read a script aloud while seated in a circle. Without giving away too much, I’d say the script is intelligently self-referential and that its aim of wanting to sound as a naturally developing conversation is very neatly accomplished. The conceit is perhaps paraded around a tad too prominently at times, but what sticks is a clever play on performance itself, after all.
For both events, one of the most significant parameters is whether you play with strangers or with friends. I’d recommend the former, since part of the experience obviously stems from having to overstep some boundaries (don’t worry, nothing crazy). It’s intimate and engaging, so don’t be shy and register now.
Both works are by British performance artist Ant Hampton, who worked with Silvia Mercuriali (Etiquette) and Gert-Jan Stam (OK OK), and are part of De Brakke Grond’s play-themed month Hack/Play.
Etiquette & OK OK
When: Both run until Saturday May 16
Where: Various locations, including Dopey’s Elixer and Het Fijnhout
Tickets: It’s free!
Online: See De Brakke Grond’s pages for Etiquette and OK OK and an overview of the locations/times
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