Right before my last visit, I listened to an interview with Careena Melia about her performance as Hacate (which I’ve been mispronouncing for a year now!). One thing that particularly stuck out to me was her answer to the question “with the audience surrounding you in masks, how you able to connect with them and how do you know if you’re pulling people in?” Melia responded by making mention of “the sense” she gets from people. She claims that she’s able to tell who is focused on her during a scene and who is engaged based on their body language. Body language is what Melia uses to decide who to “focus on, give attention to, or reward with a 1:1” Eye contact was also mentioned as being very potent. Melia says that the gaze of an performer in SNM is not something thrown around haphazardly. I took all of this information and decided to try and put it into practice that night.
I was originally going to give individual accounts of the events that lead up to the following experiences, however, the account includes more information than I’d like to post publicly. A wiser blogger than I once told me the more you learn about how the magic works, the harder it becomes to see it. SO, instead, I’ll simply mention the techniques involved and the end result of the night.
I found the most easy way to connect with a performer is to match their eye contact. There is a difference between looking at someone while they’re looking at you and holding a person’s eye contact. I found that when a performer, like Melia mentioned, makes eye contact with you, you’d be wasting an opportunity they are affording you to NOT hold that eye contact and use body language to let them know you’re interested and want to go wherever they can take you. I found that smiling, as silly as it seems, under my mask was very helpful in conveying that message. I believe facial expressions go hand in hand with certain body movements that the performers are perceptive enough to pick up on. While a smile to the sexy witch may be appropriate, a smile to a recently crushed porter may not be. The way you hold your arms may also be of some consequence. Crossed arms are not inviting and neither are held hands (unless you’re in front of Hecate, as she seems to like to split up couples). You want to display the most inviting stance you can, arms outstretched while on your knees. I jest. But, your arm placement might be something to think about if you’re looking for a 1:1.
The most obvious thing one can do in an attempt to receive a 1:1 is show dedication to the character’s story and good placement. I’ve found, as I’m sure most people have, that you have to be in arm’s reach for an actor to grab your hand. It’s very important to place yourself in an advantageous position so that, at the unexpected moment, a performer can grab your hand and whisk you away to Narnia (but once you’re in SNM, it’s already like you’ve entered Narnia. DOUBLE NARNIA) In addition to placement is familiarity and dedication. I’ve heard stories of people who have followed a character for an entire loop and when the 1:1 comes, someone in a very similar outfit cuts in front of them and gets the 1:1. While I can’t condone clotheslining some biddie for wearing the same dress as you, I would suggest making it your damn job to be in front of the pack and, without throwing and bows, stay there. Performers, as Melia said, see 1:1s as rewards. What else would the criteria be other than dedication? I like to think good hair.
With these techniques employed, I made it to the 6th floor, found out about the Narnia door, slow danced with the sexy witch, helped the boy witch dress, had a 1:1 with Hecate, and made quite good friends with Annabella and Calloway. As little as things like slow dancing with the sexy witch and helping the boy witch dress seem, it’s those small, personal experiences which make SNM goers into patrons. While the last 2 people are met without masks, the eye contact suggestion still fits. Every time I wanted something to happen, I made my body language do the speaking and not once was I disappointed. Give these tricks a shot and let me know how you fare.
EDIT: Most importantly, 1:1s are NOT the end all, be all of SNM. Connections can be made as it happened with the sexy witch and I, without a 1:1. Sleep No More is about the experience and 1:1s are simply ONE such experience.