Contemporary theatre and the experiential

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Adams, KR

In the context of the blurring of boundaries between club and theatre, game and theatre, and party and theatre, experiential spectatorship is spilling into the mainstream. This article starts from the recognition of the rapid rise of the experience economy as a turning point in consumer culture towards a specific appeal to the sensory body. The definition of experience in this analysis is key and a distinction is made between experience as it passes moment by moment, erlebnis, and experience as something that is cumulatively built up over time, erfahrung. \ud \ud This paper asks, in a society defined by the crisis of experience, does this rise of the experiential in theatre simply reflect the reduction of experience to a series of consumable sensory moments or is there a mode of experience modelled through performance interaction which moves both beyond this established mode of experience and also beyond the notion of experience as cumulatively formed wisdom (erfahrung)? Drawing a parallel between established popular cultural practices of the body and those of the spectator in spectacular promenade performance, Fuerzabruta is used as an illustrative example of popular experiential performance and Hwang’s The Road as an example of experiential performance in which a transformative aesthetic is made possible.
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