During the play series “Things We Do” at Oregon Stage Works, there were lively audience post-play discussions surrounding issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I met with director Peter Alzado and moderator Jeff Golden at the theater to discuss the nature of “talk-back” theater.
JG: I think this is a terrific use of theater. This is really exciting. I think it is timely (and not just for this topic) because most forms of media are trying to figure out how to be interactive. We are in a massive cultural shift from experts telling us how it is and lecturers revealing the truth to us and top-down transmission of knowledge and entertainment to interactivity. And you see it everywhere, most obviously on the Web. I think it’s healthy that we’re transcending division between audience and performer. It’s easier in some media than in others. I feel very strongly about this. It aligns with a new world where we no longer have a select group of experts who can tell us how to do everything. We have to solve what’s coming up collectively, with effort, and thought, and investment from everybody. That’s part of Obama’s “Yes We Can.” I see it everywhere. This was a really good way for this theater to take a step in that direction.