Tread on Me, Tread Softly is an audio-guided theater experience created by Piehole and playwright Celine Song. This work uses in-ear voices to guide audience-participants through interactions that explore citizenship and what we’re willing to give up for the “greater good,” as well as the fraught gap between community and the individual in the context of the US.
Audience-participants sit around a conference table, wearing headphones with audio streams that guide them through the creation of a micro-society centered around a water jug. The audience is unknowingly divided into several groups, with each hearing a separate audio track with a distinct perspective on the society. The voices on the tracks seek to gain the listener’s trust and coax participants to adopt divergent attitudes towards the community, their senses of belonging, and the reliability of their fellow “Water Juggians.”
Throughout the piece, the voices instruct participants to engage in the community by designating roles (like “water-pourer”) or performing tasks (like singing the Water Juggian Anthem). Participants gradually surmise they are receiving contrasting guidance, as they witness their fellow citizens behave in mysterious ways, from the suspicious (rummaging through a drawer) to the delightful (offering snacks). Despite these discrepancies, this project incites participants to forge a community and care for their disparate, common, and sometimes contradictory demands, needs, and goals.
Although we were able to do a test run of this work thanks to the support of our friends at LMCC, the COVID-19 pandemic required us to halt the production and rethink its future.