CROSSING THE LINE
French Institute Alliance Française
Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th St. between Madison & Park Aves.
Friday, September 25, and Saturday, September 26, $25
Festival continues through October 4
Swiss-born British multidisciplinary artist Ant Hampton specializes in creating hard-to-categorize immersive performance installations that take place outside of the usual dynamic between performer and audience, making the latter an active participant in the production. Since 2007, Hampton has been presenting his Autoteatro series, works in which audience members and unrehearsed guest performers are given instructions and act out the pieces themselves. For Etiquette, two people sat across from each other in a public space and followed what they were told to do via headphones. For Hello for Dummies, pairs of strangers were sent to sit and interact on outdoor benches. Hampton’s latest work is The Extra People, premiering at FIAF’s Crossing the Line festival. The site-specific piece will take place in Florence Gould Hall, with fifteen audience members onstage and another fifteen sitting in seats. Each person will have a flashlight, a neon vest, and headphones, which will instruct them what to do and where to go. Hampton’s website advises to “avoid eye contact” and explains that “the overall picture is out of your reach: too big, beyond your comprehension, or simply not your job to know. . . . In a challenge to the assumption (often taken for granted) that collectivity is what you find in the theater, the building here reflects society rather differently, with its audience situated as atomized individuals adrift or even asleep among both seating and stage, plugged into their own audio streams, patiently awaiting their call, and eventually acting upon it.” Some of the slots are already sold out, so act fast if you want to have a rather unusual experience in a theatrical setting.