Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Performance Awareness

Originally posted on July 28, 2018

There’s something about this on my other website.

I’ve been thinking about the degrees of awareness that we are performing for a hidden or not-so-hidden audience. I call this “performance awareness.” and I think there’s a spectrum: At the low end, zero awareness, at the high end, extremely aware of the audience and their reaction.

So, the spectrum:
0 – 5;   Nobody sees me, getting up to go to the bathroom at night…
6 – 11:  Someone sees me but either I don’t care, I am aware that he/she/ they don’t care, or I don’t (bother) registering that they’re there.
   If I don’t do something outrageous to get attention, I will continue to be ignored.
          (Actually, this has advantages.)
12 – 20      I’d like to get a little recognition, a nod. I’m dressed okay, I belong. I am recognized. I smile at people they smile back.
21 – 30    I say hello, I may wear a little fashion item, hairdo, hat, coat, button that could be com-mented on. This is a little performance, if you think about it.
31 – 40.  I engage in conversation. I disclose my accent, pace. I may have an anecdote, bit of gossip. I’m beyond tongue-tied. I smile, maybe make a small joke, express as performance a bit of sympathy for their predicament, sickness, audience their performance.
40 – 50  I tell a story, make a face, others would stop to see me converse.
51 – 60.  I frame my performance. Say it’s a joke, or offer a song.  I may invite others to join me. We perform a little bit. Still informal. On street, meeting.
61 – 70  This is a performance. People know it. I am acting. I have a stage area if not a raised stage. I talk. I may be introducing others. I may be making an announcement. or have a little song.
71 – 80  We—at least one other person—has joined me and we have a skit. It’s understood as a skit. There’s a slight sense that we could do it well or badly.
81-90 I am performing, but it’s amateur. I use theater arts, I recite poetry, sing songs, act in plays,   amateur  to  professional   but yet not over $2000 / week
91-99  They pay good money to see me perform.

Note that this is crude, and perhaps each integer is yet another leap more than the previous one. I realize that much of life goes on as non-performance, but not no-performance. Dish-washing can be done at the 10-20 level. “You did the dishes well” is implicit.

t makes me think that the "performance" I am working on is levels 0 through 60. Most people understand performance as 61+, but I think that if we are able to recognize performance in 0-60 we gain flexibility and spontaneity.

When we talked about this a while back I argued that even going to the bathroom to brush my teeth could be on this scale—seen as a performance, however, this becomes a performance when I see it as a performance. So the concept you say about "performance awareness" is key.

This is making me think of "performance awareness" as a kind of attention, or framing of meaning, a kind of  “muscle-equivalent”  that we humans have, and can develop with others. The more I can utilize this type of "muscle", the easier it will be for me to improvise or regain perspective when things are not going as planned. This is where I see action methods helping people not only help people increase their "performance awareness,,"  but also provide "regular exercises" as a way to strengthen that muscle.

A friend, Andres, wrote: “ It makes me think that the "performance" I am working on is levels 0 through 60. Most people understand performance as 61+, but I think that if we are able to recognize performance in 0-60 we gain flexibility and spontaneity.” I agreed and noted, “Yes, but most people by far do not see even 50%  or less as performance, and many don’t even see 51-60% that way. That is the value. To recognize the whole spectrum as if it were performance—although it may not be meant that way—is not what most folks would agree that it “is” a performan-ce! — but it’s useful because it fosters the auxiliary concepts:
   1. If we think of it as if it were performance, we then may recognize that the actor is more or less enmeshed in the role.
   2. Less enmeshed— going through the role play while thinking about something else. Making love mechanically and fantasizing what must be done tomorrow.
   3. Most enmeshed—forgetting it’s a performance. Playing Othello, but (horribly) really truly not acting but actually strangling the actor playing Desdemona. Not okay.
   4. Not doing that: That’s way too over-involved. Shifting the mind to be less over-involved, or able to shift back and forth—the mind can do this—really involved, but then backing off mentally and observing— and learning to do both almost at the same time—
 
Andres: When we talked about this a while back I argued that even going to the bathroom to brush my teeth could be seen as a performance, however, this becomes a performance when I see it as a performance.

Me: Of course, that’s it. If you see it as performance… if you know a role play can be an occasion to play around, you start brushing your teeth slightly differently, with a bit more self-conscious-ness, or experimentation how to brush, or noticing the funny ways your face looks with a tooth-rush shoved up one cheek…
 
Andres: So the “awareness” part of the "performance awareness" is key. This is making me think of "performance awareness" as a muscle that we humans have, and can develop with others.

(Adam has a webpage on this!  http://interactiveimprov.com/performaware.html )

Andres: The more I can utilize this "muscle", the easier it will be for me to impro-vise or regain perspective when things are not going as planned.  This is where I see action methods helping people not only help people increase their "perform-ance awareness," but also provide "regular exercises" as a way to strengthen that muscle.”

Adam: Yes, or even know that muscle is there!! Many really do not know this. This may be what Performing the World aims to do, thinking about your other email.


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