participation


> participatie


participation > participatie [English/Dutch]


To participate is to share. 

In a performance, this involves the sharing of space, physically and mentally, by both the audience and the performer. Physical participation takes place as soon as the spectator enters any sort of performing space. This can be, for instance, the theatre, but also a museum or another location. The performer shares this space with the spectator. From that moment, one is physically participating. 

But this is one part of participation. To fully participate, the spectator must also mentally open up to what’s being shared by the performer. So participation is not only physically sharing a certain space, but also sharing ideas, emotions or certain images (like in dance).

To achieve this, participation from the performer’s perspective is also an invitation for the spectator to share his or her space, and to receive what he or she has to perform. Participation for the spectator is also, in this sense, accepting this invitation.

When a performance has drawn to a close, both spectator and performer have actively shared space and time. It depends on the sort of performance if one has shared movement, thought, and imagination either passively or actively. For instance, a performance that breaks with the fourth wall could ask for the spectator to actively participate., while keeping up this fourth wall will ask for the spectator to participate more passively.

Of course, participating is also taking part in something. The extent of taking part in a performance has changed throughout the years and always deals with conventions. In the Netherlands those conventions were very strict until the 1960s.  Participation mainly took place physically through the sharing of space. However, not so much mentally, so there was less sharing of ideas or emotions, nor were spectators invited to have an open and active engagement with these ideas and emotions.

Eventually we participate by sharing space, time, ideas, and emotions.


Author and translator: Jantien Kurpershoek