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Turning table on theatre

AUDIENCE participation has been part and parcel of the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) for many years; audience integration, however, is making its bow this year.

The three "James Plays"- written by Rona Munro - at the Festival Theatre will feature 100 seats built into the set in the style of choir stalls, and their occupants will be at the heart of the action throughout. Facing out to the rest of the auditorium, they will form a people's parliament overlooking the courts of James I, II and III.

In what is believed to be an EIF first, those onstage audience members will be able to share the cast's perspective of the space. This perspective may instruct a deeper knowledge of what an actor goes through; they will be able to readily identify the perpetrators of sweetie-wrapper or mobile phone outrages, which may in turn lead to modified behaviour on future occasions.

It is worrying, though, that they are forming a parliament; it is to be hoped that there are no spontaneous cries of "rubbish" or "hear, hear" when the Jameses deliver their lines. As we know to our cost, parliaments sometimes descend from theatre to farce.

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