We've been getting small audiences for the current show. The smallest we had was four. Tonight we had five. One night we got up over twenty. That was pretty exciting.
I don't mean to sound ungrateful, or diva-ish, but it's really hard to perform for a small audience. Part of the joy of live theatre is the symbiosis between actors and audience. It's a shared experience.
Never is this more apparent than in comedy. Comedy needs a crowd. Most people will not laugh out loud if they are watching a movie in their living room. But put them in a crowded movie theatre and they laugh hysterically. This is why sitcoms add a laugh track or perform in front of a (laughing) studio audience- to give the viewer at home the perception of being in a crowd.
Small audiences are often afraid to laugh. They worry that if they bust out laughing they will disturb the person next to them, or bother the actors on stage. They worry they will laugh at the wrong time. In a crowd, if several people are laughing you have a buffer.
My advice to you as an audience member at a live performance? Laugh if it is funny. Please, please, PLEASE laugh. Often all it takes is one person to get the others to let loose a little chuckle. In fact, they used to have a person hired by the theatre to laugh at all the jokes. (Likewise there were people to lead the applause, etc.)
Look, I'll forgive you if your cell phone rings (as long as you don't ANSWER it) or you open a noisy candy wrapper if you would just. please. laugh.
Monday's Mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a post in the style of a bill. If it's funny... I promise I'll laugh!