Through our initiative “Sense-able,” dog & pony dc is exploring how to use touch, taste, and smell to create more accessible audience integrated performances. Conspirator Lorraine Ressegger-Slone reflects on discoveries she made while interviewing theatre-goers as part of the process:

We at dog & pony dc believe that theatre, our brand of theatre, builds bridges between people and communities. It helps to facilitate conversations and encourages engagement beyond the surface level.

Now, we know that we come to our work with certain perspectives about the way theatre should be made and consumed. That’s part of what has brought us together as a company. As we continue to grow we are interrogating our own assumptions about “what theatre is” so we can be more accessible to a wider range of people. That’s what birthed Sense-able.

While studying our own practice, we also want to learn about other artists’ practices of making theatre and audience’s perceptions of attending theatre.

So far we’ve had three interview sessions: one at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop and two at Capital Fringe Arts Bar Courtyard. The questions are pretty straightforward: consisting of thoughts on what constitutes “live theatre;” feelings of inclusion and whether or not theatre itself is inclusive; what a personal “dream production” might look like. The reactions have both been expected…and totally not. There are definitely themes that continue to come up, such as people wanting something that challenges them, something that makes them laugh, something unexpected (which is really hard for people to explain: “I don’t know, just something surprising!”)

That theatre is something that is shared, of the moment, something ephemeral.

It has been utterly fascinating to listen to different perceptions and thoughts on art, but what has been the biggest gift to me by far has been the time to sit with someone and talk about our passions. As a mom of two children under 5, plus an energetic puppy, it can be hard to have any meaningful conversation at all. It takes me over an hour to compose an email sometimes. So to be able to sit at a table and really listen to someone, to share thoughts and find connection is so incredibly important and valuable. In a way these interviews are a piece of theatre in and of themselves. Two (often more) strangers sharing thoughts and experiences, building bridges to each other, giving the other something to reflect and build upon.

We have more interviews scheduled at Union Market in August. I’m looking forward to them and interested to see what new reactions we’ll get. We’re also send out the survey through email and social media. I’d love for you to take the time to fill it out. Just click HERE.

Thank you! I eagerly await your reactions.