Written by Rachel Martsolf
As the Artistic Director of The Exchange Artists I would love to thank The Greater Austin Creative Alliance for partnering with us in producing SPECT-ACTOR, Austin’s 2010 World Theatre Day celebration. The day included eight performances in public places around the city engaging unsuspecting audience members in theatrical events all day long, and an evening party.
At 10:30 a.m. Exchange Artists actors took their places at bus stops along Guadalupe only to have the first actor in the sequence of events cut short and asked to exit the bus! The aborted performance will remain a mystery to the passengers on the LM/1 that morning, much to some great disappointment and some great delight.
Not to be defeated, 14 Exchange Artists undercover actors broke into song and dance in the prepared foods section at Whole Foods at 12:30 p.m. in the height of Saturday lunch shopping. “First Date Audition” revealed a couple on their first date after communicating online and on the phone. Their jittery story was highlighted by dancers who pointed, kicked and twirled around the food bars only to finish waving happily at the couple who decide to give up on the overwhelming food options and go for a slice of pizza and a coke.
Loaded Gun Theory took to downtown’s streets in an effort to cultivate interest and signatures to petition for Austin’s first cat park. Their extremely sincere non-performance gathered interest in two heavy traffic pedestrian areas before processing to City Hall with a strong crowd of support.
Meanwhile on the east side of Austin The Exchange Artists were back on a city bus (the M20) heading west. The story this time was entirely told and almost entirely believed. Jim McKaske’s hilarious script was focused on a reserved seat, a rabbit in a bag, a search for love, and a very special vet.
Over on the Lamar Footbridge Biophiliac Productions offered fortunes from a gypsy with a back up band.
The final theatrical event happened at 4 p.m. at Auditorium Shores where The Bats were having a wedding. Everything looked beautiful but became very precarious when the wedding guests voted that the wedding NOT proceed.
We titled our event after one of Augusta Boal’s terms “spect-actor” to emphasize the spirit of World Theatre Day- to celebrate and empower theatre artists and audiences everywhere and to highlight the interactive relationship necessary for theatre to be in its most effective state. Instead of separating ourselves into spectators and actors we wanted this event to create spect-actors, those who engage and share in the activity of creating theatre, anywhere and anytime.
World Theatre Day is a day to celebrate theatre by creating theatre, but it is also a day to contemplate the art form’s role in our lives and in our societies, locally and globally. We were lucky to have one of Austin’s most celebrated actors, Ken Webster, of Hyde Park Theatre reading both Dame Judy Dench’s International World Theatre Day Message and Lynn Notage’s U.S. Theatre Day Message. We were also extremely lucky to hear two addresses written for Austin’s World Theatre Day Celebration. Robert Faires wrote and delivered the First-ever State of the Arts in Austin Address. He eloquently delivered a well-focused and insightful address both honoring the theatre community’s successes and calling for more growth and more collaboration in the future. Michael Meigs entertained the party with his observations of Austin’s theatre scene from the audience perspective.
We owe a big thank you to Cambiare Productions for attending all of the day’s events in order to create this fantastic archive of video and photographs of the day. We’re so grateful for their planning and execution of this extremely important role!
I would also like to thank all of the volunteers and sponsors who made SPECT-ACTOR possible and so enjoyable. Sprouts Grocery, Romeos, Whole Foods and Austin Onstage Magazine for donating food and beverages for the party. Katie Richter, Shauna Danos, Page Yarborough, Angela Garner and Lynn Johnson for volunteering their time to party and performance support. Nitra Gutierrez for loaning her projector to show Cambiare’s videos at the party. All of the performers who participated in performance events, and all of the attendees of the performances and the party. World Theatre Day is about recognizing and celebrating our theatre community, and we have one of the best! Thank you Austin for a fantastic World Theatre Day!