DSS introduces relaxed performance with ‘Theseus’

Production chooses accessibility over traditional theatre etiquette

DSS made sure everyone could enjoy the show.
Credit: 
Supplied by Studio Q

Equity and representation are of concern to many theatre scholars, especially as they pertain to accommodating audiences.

The Dan Studio Series held its first-ever relaxed performance on Mar. 24 with a collection of student-written and directed pieces titled Theseus that adapted conventional theatre etiquette to increase accessibility.

House lights in the Rotunda theatre were kept on, cues were turned down, and ASMs (assistant stage managers) were visible during transitions. Spectators were also given a content advisory and offered support located within Theological Hall as one portion of the production reflected on a character actively contemplating suicide.

While the structure of the performance prioritized accessibility, the pieces also explored a diversity of topics, including adventure, modern-romance, mental health, and existential crises.  

                                       The Fountain and Ham & Cheese Search For The Bagel

The Fountain follows Jaden, who, while hopeful for his future, is overwhelmed with existential questions about his identity and life path. He sets out in search of the titular fountain in a magical forest in hopes of finding answers.

Ham & Cheese Search for the Bagel is another allegorical performance where destiny and God are interwoven into Ham & Cheese’s search to find a love they cannot have.

Both productions incorporated accessibility measures into their performances, including the use of lighting during transitions. Ham and Cheese director Charity Wessel, ArtSci ’22, told The Journal more about the process in an interview.

“At least from my perspective, this specific DSS show has really taken a step up in terms of accessibility—not only in the creation process but in the performing process.”

Wessel hopes this level of accessibility will become a DSS-wide standard.

                Cowboy Mike & The Golden Cattle and Make You Work Hard, Make You Spend Hard

Cowboy Mike & The Golden Cattle and Make You Work hard, Make You Spend Hard fused elements of tragic romance into a comedic structure.

Cowboy Mike & The Golden Cattle was undeniably the most happy-go-lucky performance of the evening. It was lighthearted and immersive, with mythical and fairytale creatures like beautiful sirens, wise willows, and golden cattle, of course.

Conversely, Make You Work Hard, Make You Spend Hard is a modern romantic comedy focused on mental health. Protagonist Daisy is an archetypal drama student struggling with emotional unavailability, stuck in an unconventional relationship with her teaching assistant.

DSS’s incorporation of accessibility measures benefited both performances.

Their decision to go with un-assigned seating fostered an intimate environment, allowing people to sit wherever they felt most comfortable. This was a benefit for those with mobility needs and appreciated given some of the heavy subject matter.

Overall, DSS’s relaxed performance laid a framework for a more inclusive and accessible theatre experience that should be followed by all.

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