Acting Stranger has three components: a website; many small public performances; and several large public screenings.
Two-(and sometimes three-) person short scenes are written. No exposition, no inciting incident, no denouement – just catastrophe and climax. Total strangers act them out alongside Schneider in public places, having never rehearsed, discussed, or met beforehand. These scenes are documented on video, made available through a web site, and edited into a larger document that is then screened at several venues later.
A Stranger visits the website and is asked to read the scenes. This Stranger chooses a scene and which character they would like to play. The Stranger can always choose to play either character, even if the implied gender roles are reversed. When The Stranger has chosen a scene and a character to play, they fill out a form on the website. They indicate the scene number and character using drop-down menus and radio buttons. The form also allows them to choose a date, time, neighborhood of Brooklyn (or in this iteration, a location in the Berkshires), and one piece of distinguishing clothing. The Stranger submits the online form. The Stranger arrives at the decided location and time and interaction as dictated by the words in the scene commences. There are no “hellos” unless they are scripted. There is no direction unless it is scripted. There are no second takes. There is nothing that is not within the context of the scene. Each other is experienced as the characters. The scene ends. All leave. There are no “goodbyes,” or “thank yous.” The video is processed and uploaded to the website or publicly screened for anyone to see.
One of the most important aspects of the project is the fact that The Stranger and Schneider do not know each other, have not previously seen each other, and do not verbally speak to each other prior to meeting while performing. They’ve never actually meet in real life. All interaction is within the context of the scene. Acting Stranger is the evolving document of an ongoing project exploring intimacy, relationship, and experience between strangers. The project is the process.
Sign up to be A Stranger.
Acting Stranger recently joined the Melbourne Festival in October 2015 with a multi-screen installation at Arts House, North Melbourne Hall (October 17-19) and a screening at ACMI.