An MC is making a phone call to one of the viewers of a television program. Some viewers appear on the TV show as guests or main characters. Many audiences of the TV program are voting for their favorite trainee’s debut as a member of an idol group or even for the name or debut song of the group. Similarly, people participate in TV programs directly in such a variety of ways and influence contents of the program. These days, active participation of the public can be found in other performance arts besides TV, like plays and movies.
In the play, performers and audiences can interact with each other easily, looking at their faces. For that reason, some performances in which audiences participate have existed for a long time. One of them is a play called “Shear Madness”. The plot of the play is that a detective is deducing a criminal of a murder case. Along with the detective, the audiences reason who is a murderer and decide a murderer among the four suspects, observing characters’ utterances and behaviors in the play. They can ask about suspicious appearances and alibis during the running time. They can also tell the detective what they saw during the intermission. Reflecting on these audience reactions, the play ends with the suspect which are pointed out by most audience members becoming the real murderer of the day. Just as the audiences of “Shear Madness” do, these interactive plays allow people to enjoy and participate in the play actively.
There is the further shape of performances from the ones like the above. It is called as immersive theater. It is not that distinct from the performance which the audiences simply participate in, but it regards theater and audience more innovatively. It considers the whole theater and even the outside of it as a stage, rather than dividing the stage and seats. Also, it treats the audience as an active member. Spontaneity is also an important point of the immersive theater. As an example, there is a play titled “Tomorrow is the Performance. What Should We Do?” Its story is that assistant director tries to solve the problems which are not resolved yet on the day before a performance. The audiences move backstage into a dressing room, a practice room, and an office of the theater, following the character who acts AD. They move around the whole theater, rather than just sitting in their chairs as they would in general performances. They recognize the matter which is not settled yet on each spot. They carry out some missions which fit the situations to help the AD character who is in charge of solving the matter. They join in directly and become a part of a performance in this way.
Although people are not in the face-to-face situation like the play, they can also affect works which are already made. In the case of movies, they usually progress one storyline at a time, and the viewers just watch the story’s flow. There is a movie which viewers can change a storyline and an ending while watching it. The movie “Late Shift (2016)” has 180 storylines and seven endings. The viewers agonize over what they choose in the specific scenes every time in terms of the main character. They send their decisions through the smartphone app on the moments of choice. Then the story flows according to their choices and if the viewers are in the theater, the movie goes along with the directions that most people choose.
From the television programs to the movies, the public takes part in the various content of entertainment. Why has this phenomenon become popular? Above all, the awareness about the consumer has changed. ‘Cresumer’ is the word which shows that. It was made by adding the word ‘creative’ to ‘consumer’, and it means literally the creative consumer. The word was used only in the business community originally, but these days, young artists in the field of performance also use the concept of it. They recognize the audience as a creative partner to complete their own creation instead of a passive consumer. Thanks to the different view about a consumer, artists can escape from convention and make a new trial.
Also, the change of consumers themselves is another cause of the phenomenon, besides the shift of awareness concerning the consumer. If you look at the popular things nowadays, you can easily see the public’s preference has changed. Online, it is popular not to just show one’s general video recorded already but to broadcast their daily life live. Kwon Hye-eun, a performance columnist and an editor of a magazine about twenty’s lifestyle, said that communicating interactively in real time is the trend and such flow seems to be reflected in performances. Moreover, consumers enjoy spending their time in the place where people play by experiencing in person. It is proven by the increasing numbers of place like room escape cafes and VR experience centers. To follow the alteration of the audience’s style, some performances have changed their styles. Jeong Su-yeon, an adjunct professor of the Department of Theater and Film in Hanyang University, said that changes in performances fit well in the current flows that focus on experience and spontaneity.
Like this, the changes of consumers and views about them lead the shift of cultural field. According to some experts, these figures by new trials enrich the cultural field and affect positively. However, they also say that they cannot give the answer easily about how these trials will end. Will the challenge finish up with just one trial? Will it make an innovation in the cultural content industry? Won Jong-won, a musical critic and a professor of Soonchunhyang University, said that people need to keep an eye on whether it will be a long- term trend.
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