Spectator as traveller and performer as guide: a conversation on the pedagogy of site-specific, participatory and immersive performance
Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts
The dialogue that follows is concerned with how the actor or performer inhabits their world, and how we can teach or train performers for sitespecific, immersive or participatory performance. For the purpose of this conversation we are referring to PMA3001 Site Specific Production, a year-long undergraduate major unit taught as part of the Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA) Performance Making at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), a performing arts conservatoire that is part of Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia. We understand the generic title of site-specific performance in relation to Gay McAuley (2007) as either site based (responds to or emerges from the chosen site) or site specific (cannot be located anywhere but that site) and we are also referring to work that is participatory (involving work by the audience) and immersive (involving immersion in a sensory experience, drawing from Josephine Machon’s (2013) understanding of an ‘other world’). These types of works move, they journey, and they relate people and stories to place and space. They notate histories and stories in performance language. Above all they are far from easy but enrich a performance education in myriad ways. We interrogate how it is possible to train the actor-performer to be sensitive to what is in flux in each performance and with each spectator they encounter.