'Bambu' ©Maria Luisa Giuliani

The Art And Science Of Heckling

The performance was a hoot. Actually, lots of hoots. More, an ongoing Hooting Event. The performance that took place was by the audience, with the Level One Performance Team spectators at their own show. But this time, at least for a performance in the Gandara auditorium, there were no plates of nuts, or bowls of soft and juicy fruit cut into pieces, distributed among the audience. Fruit pieces make a soft smacking noise as they hit Ovations, and almost no noise as they hit the players. The good news is, the fruit is fresh. The bad news is, to eat it firstly you must lift it off the floor and wash it.

An essay waits to be written on The Art And Science Of Heckling. Each qualitative “world” has its own degree and quality of heckling. Heckling moves from the disruption and oafishness of the basement, where this is an expression of dislike and thwarted expectation, to the promptings of a Holy Fool who offers the performer a reminder, example and encouragement that they may enter and embrace a world which is Real and Good and True. 

Most audiences can only aspire to have a character like this among them. But on this course we do have a Fool, and a good one.

Intentional heckling, undertaken as a piece of work, requires (as a bottom line) goodwill and (if possible) compassion. Without this, little is achieved in the best interests of the performer. And therefore, the audience.

Tonight’s tendered reality-checks were offered in good and high spirits. Thepretensions of any performer are immediately recognisable. Here, each member of the audience has themself been in the same place, several times.Clevernesses, hot licks to amaze and dazzle, rip-offs and themes of questionable provenance, just don’t work here. And, while falling flat, the rug is also pulled from under the conceits of the performer, to assist their speedy downfall. 

Support is offered by the audience when their reminder is recognised and accepted without undue complaint. But any irritation shown by a performer is the end of their performance. Look out, dude. You do not get irritated with an audience from Latin America, particularly one which is better educated than you are, more proficient and practised, and with a sense of humour sufficient to sustain life during the hard years. One player, using a small amplifier, discovered that the electricity supply to Gandara is not completely reliable; especially when an audient pulled out a plug to encourage rapid thinking on that player’s behalf. After all, it’s the recovery that matters.

The first show was hard to hear above the audience, from just in front of the stage. A second show was recommended, to take place immediately, on the grounds that it would be a very bad idea to upset an Argentinian audience that wanted more. Then, immediately after the end of the second show and as if turning on a coin, uproar disappeared and Silence entered within seconds. Ten minutes later a speaker watch announced: It is ten o’clock and no seconds (in Spanish with a Madrid accent). 

This prompted hoots of laughter and a shout of It’s a sign! followed by more hoots of laughter. Then once again, within seconds, back into Silence.

After thirty minutes this intense embrace by Silence gently released itself, and little tasty biscuit cakes (given to the course by Charlina, the visiting mother of Christian) were distributed at the door.

It’s a sign! is a running shout of this week. Whenever the lights have dimmed, and electricity supplies to Gandara are not completely reliable even without assistance, the call has gone up. This is, of course, a joke. But somewhere within the joke is the recognition that something is in fact underway here. The sceptic might well ask: How do we know? The answer is experiential. Here it is. If you wish to taste this, stick out your tongue, Baby Blue. Otherwise, don’t concern yourself and have an easier life.

Some things protect themselves by being what they are.

Robert Fripp
Wednesday, 5th. April 2000;
Seminario San José, Gándara, Argentina.