INTERVIEWING THE AUDIENCE
INTERVIEWING THE AUDIENCE
‘Interviewing the Audience’ is a new work by the playwright and filmmaker Zach Helm and created spontaneously each night by Mr. Helm from onstage interviews with willing members of the audience.
Interviewing the Audience, which was Spalding Grey sort of asking questions, bringing people up from the audience and asking questions and making it theater. And as Zach points out, Spalding Grey had a bunch of questions. Zach only has one. And I have to tell you, the most impressive part of this is that somehow, people who do this kind of thing of bringing people up from the audience are remarkably good at figuring out who to bring up. The night that I saw it, they brought up a young man, who’s name — well, he wasn’t all that young, he was almost 50 — who’s name was John, and asked him the question of what brings you here. And Jon just took off for the next 15 minutes of telling the story of his girlfriend and how they met and how they were getting engaged, and then the night that he gave her the ring, and he was really wonderful, and you enormously cared hugely about him. And then they brought his girlfriend up to sort of talk about her perception, and it was really great theater. Well, I’m not sure it was great theater to be quite honest. It was very interesting human drama. Although, I don’t think he’s a great interviewer, but that’s maybe because I ask much nastier questions than he asked. Then, he turned on the audience lights and came out into the audience, and I’m terrified that he’s going to pick me because I always get pic
ked for these things. But he did not pick me, he picked my date, which is the only thing worse than being picked, because my date is smart enough to realize that if he talked about himself he was going to be vulnerable and exposed, but if he talked about me, th
en I was going to be vulnerable and exposed, which is sort of what he did. I sort of could sympathize with the woman, Darlene, before, who had her hands over her face part of when John was talking. But having said that, it was a very interesting experience. Zach at the end says, well, the audience may want to sit around and talk with each other, because all three people ended up talking about love and relationships and the past, and it was actually somehow knit together, and worked, actually, fairly well. And the audience reaction was actually as warm and comforting as anything else, because people wanted to talk to each of the three interviewees and to me, because I was the part that was talked about but not there. So it was actually a fairly interesting kind of evening at the theater; it’s a little hard to review dispassionately because there was a part of me that was horrified when I was being talked about, and a part of me that was enchanted, and a part that thought I can do a better job of this. So all in all, it was actually an interesting experience. I’d give it two and a half stars.