Seeing Faye Driscoll’s work is like attending the zaniest, most uninhibited birthday party you can imagine. Her most recent production, Thank You For Coming: Attendance, included maypole skipping, unflinching eye contact, a fantastical funeral scene and even a complete breakdown (and reassembly) of the stage, mid-performance. It also involved a considerable amount of audience participation—that dreaded phrase which sends a chill down the spines of most spectators. But in Driscoll’s capable hands, audience participation is less a mandate and more an opportunity for meaningful connection with the performers. It’s a chance to be part of the creation.
On September 22, Driscoll premieres a new iteration of Thank You For Coming—this time delving deeper into make-believe and storytelling—at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio.
Training: Los Angeles County High School for the Arts; BFA in dance from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts
Performance: Doug Varone and Dancers, 2000–2003
Choreography: Started making work in 2005; received a Bessie Award for Outstanding Production in 2009; 2013 Guggenheim fellowship; 2016 Doris Duke Award
Photo by Steven Schreiber, courtesy of Driscoll
Getting the audience participation element right “We had a lot of audiences in the room to test it out. I asked the dancers to bring their roommates in. We definitely didn’t get it right a lot of the time. Sometimes we were really aggressive about getting them to participate—we had to find this middle ground.”
On creating humor “I love that humor is often a place where energy gets to release and transform. I’m often excited by the things in the rehearsal room that create a spontaneous response in me, that I can’t help but go, ‘HA!’ I’ll go toward that—I won’t shy away from it.”
What she looks for in dancers “I want to feel intrigued by them. I want to feel like they have certain tools in their toolbox, whether that’s technique or an acting background. I also really like people who are improvisers and creators, who are generous, who can dialogue about the work. And the people who are on time and consistent—I will always hire that person again, over the person who was amazing in the performance but had an attitude and showed up late.”