It's all about the ass in Austin: first this. Then, last night, a nightmare story told by Robin Arthur of (Forced Entertainment) to a small group of people who'd just finished watching a performance art/music showdown between Maxi Geil...
...and Neal Medlyn (here performing his recreation of the Beyonce Experience tour)...
Robin mentioned the Bloody Mess performance at On the Boards a few years ago, when FE's smoke machine set off a fire alarm. Bloody Mess is spectacular and weird, and most of the audience thought the alarm was a clever intermission device. Since then, FE has had a series of interruptions—fainters, drunks, panels falling out of the ceiling. "For 20 years, we didn't have a single interruption," Robin said. "Now it's non-stop."
Forced Entertainment was performing Spectacular in Bristol a few days ago when an audience member with a Russian accent began heckling the cast, shouting variations on "that's not funny!" while his female companion cackled. He was asked to leave but refused, and the show went on.
At some point later, Robin said, an actor delivers a line about seeing something extraordinary. "You want to see something extraordinary?!" the Russian shouted, then walked onto the stage, shat in his hand, and rubbed his face. At that point, he was chucked out. "The worst thing," Robin said, "is that someone from the theater came up to us afterwards and asked if he was part of our show."
The heckler, it turned out, was Alexander Davidovič Brener, who stages interventions on other people's performances. "That's his art?" another British artist—Ant Hampton—wondered aloud.
It was a generous way to phrase the question.