The project I am currently working on is an outdoor Shakespeare piece, Work It Productions’ annual Shakespeare on the Troll.
The Fremont Troll is a hugely popular tourist attraction, and since this is small theatre, we have to rehearse on weekends when people are not at their day jobs. So we’ve been rehearsing Saturdays and Sundays at the Troll, and competing for space with a lot of tourists — especially tourists with kids.
I was told, when I interviewed for this position, that we’d have to share the space with a lot of people, so it’s not like I wasn’t prepared to hold and wait for people to take pictures with the Troll (every other person, by the way, climbs up the Troll’s left arm and sticks their hand up his nose. I wish there was an online compendium of all the pictures of people picking the Troll’s nose). What I wasn’t prepared for was the intensity of the kids’ interest in what’s going on. Since we’re sharing the space and not cording off some part of the stage area for ourselves, kids get to stand really, really close to the action. Their parents will often eventually pull them back, but not before they get a good, nightmarish eyeful of the witches’ scene, something like that.
It reminds me why live theatre is important. These kids will just go stock still, slack-jawed, getting to watch people perform with super-high energy in real time. I know they basically treat the TV the same way, up to a certain age, but this kind of interaction is much more rare for the general American population, so it seems like it’s fascinating for much older kids as well as really little children. There’s something about being up close and personal with actors that is magical.