You and I: on theatre and audience (with a nod to Adrian Howells)

by Caridad Svich

in Audience & Community Engagement

Post image for You and I: on theatre and audience (with a nod to Adrian Howells)

(This reflection was written for the 2015 TCG Circle Audience Revolution blog salon)

This is not for you.

You never came into my mind when I was making this.

To be honest, I was thinking of someone else entirely.


So, you can only imagine how shocking it is to see you there

staring at me, listening to me, thinking all sorts of things.

I am not sure how to behave.

Because, I don’t know you. At all.


Are you sure you are supposed to be here?


Maybe you wandered in by mistake.

Maybe you thought something else was going to happen.


Listen, I’m sorry.

Because, even though we’re strangers,

It’s clear that someone must have invited you

Or asked you to come


Not that it changes anything.

I mean, I still made this without thinking about you

But you know what I mean


I want you to feel welcome


Well, you showed up

And no one else did


Really, I’m quite taken

With your taking the time to come all this way

There are so many things to do in a day


that you have chosen (somehow) to have come here is…



Even if I do find it a little odd


Because really I wanted someone else to show up

Someone else entirely


Not you


I’m a little hurt, actually

Maybe even a bit angry

That it’s you


And not this other person

That has made it here


Because it’s much harder with strangers

Much harder to be intimate –

At least for me

And this is…well… intimate

And a bit, you know, dark


I’m not going to lie

It’s a bit uncomfortable

To see you there

And know that all this

Is now meant for you


When it wasn’t

For you

In the first place



I am just being honest here

I hope you don’t mind


It’s a bit embarrassing to pretend we’re friends


I mean, we haven’t even said hallo.

Haven’t even broken bread together.


This is all quite unnatural


Although a friend of mine says most everything we do is

You seem impatient

Maybe you’re getting upset

Or bored

When we were children, we never had time to get bored, my grandparents say


I’m not sure I know what they mean

Almost everyone I know gets bored quite easily

Just like you’re doing now

Glancing at your phone

Cradling its vibrations

I understand


Listen, I have been where you are, too

I know what it’s like to be a stranger

In a strange place

Where people behave in peculiar ways

And expect you to suddenly be friends

As if they’d known you for years


I know what it’s like to walk in

And know, deep down, that you never thought of me

And were perhaps even contemptuous of me

And saw me as some sort of project you had to work on

Or task you had to fulfill


Listen, you can ignore me

It’s okay


I would rather you did

Because, well, this being intimate thing



I’m not sure I’m good at it either

Not these days


Because, I do get bored quite easily

And rather like looking at my phone

And really, my mind is…

So cluttered with…


So, for you to ignore me

Is great


It’s probably the best thing you could do


Because really, I walked in by mistake

I didn’t even know what I came here for

I had the wrong day


You weren’t even on my mind either

And what we have here is


Not even a real thing




You can carry on

Pretend I’m not here

Pretend it’s all some sort of show

And that what we’re doing is

A perfectly natural thing


I won’t tell anybody

After all, I don’t know anybody who goes to…


You want to actually shake my hand?

Say hallo?

Share some food and drink?


You want to talk to me?


What if I do/say the wrong thing?


It’s all allowed?




Let’s begin, then: you and I.

Caridad Svich is a text-builder and theatre-maker. Her most recent play This Thing of Ours was featured in the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’ 2015 Ignite Festival of New Work.

Audience (R)Evolution is a four-stage program to study, promote and support successful audience engagement and community development models across the country. The Audience (R)Evolution grant program was designed by TCG and is funded by Doris Duke.