|Ben Lundberg talks about wearing that famous hat.
I first met Ben Lundberg and his colleague (and Culture Future blogger) Guy Yedwab at the Theater Tweetup back in March, which some of you may remember reading about. It was there they first told me about their project called The Orange Hats, which archived audience response to live performance.
This intrigued me, being someone who is also steeped in audience response, albeit from a different point of view. This led me to meet up with Lundberg once again, and about a month ago, we sat down for an interview.
Here, Lundberg talks about “origins, current happenings and archiving.”
Thanks to Lundberg’s project, much post-show dialogue has been documented, with the group inserting their own take whilst also keeping it at arm’s length for the viewer. The intention always to make the viewer think, giving a well-rounded take on what the audience experienced. The Orange Hats’ videos also try to cater to the aesthetic of each show it covers, whether by the music playing in the background (such as their American Idiot video), or by graphics (NYU Tisch’s Fighter).
As far as larger experiential observations, Lundberg noted: “I don’t think I would have become as interested in this project if I wasn’t inherently somebody who engaged in criticism a lot.” Because of the fact that he archives others’ responses immediately after a performance, Lundberg does not get to engage with his own feelings. “What’s interesting,” he said, “is that it gives me at least twenty minutes of pause where I’m not obsessed with what I think about a show, where that’s not my main focus. I have to listen to [others’ responses], because we ask questions…because we’re trying to open a conversation, so I really have to be part of that conversation, even though I’m a silent part.”
Branching out. As of October 2010, The Orange Hats expanded their project to Lundberg’s alma mater, New York University‘s Tisch School of the Arts. Initially, he sent a letter to Tisch’s Undergraduate Student Council, starting the branch as a club. The Orange Hats: Tisch would archive undergraduate performances at the school. The group would also act as an incubator for members during their 4-year stay at the school, serving as both a mentoring and teaching program, “in which students get to see a lot of theatre and ask questions about audiences and arts criticism.”