According to McGee, the key to this is incorporating both dramatic and comedic material and being aware of audience experience at every part of the process. “It’s my job,” he says, “to make the audience’s facial expressions change—happiness, sadness, belonging. It should be an audible adventure that is malleable in some way.”
His book of poetry, In Search of Midnight, mirrors this sensitivity by offering a series of narrative poems that bring the reader to many different stops on an emotional spectrum. Understated and reflective pieces are often followed by what McGee calls comedic “release valves” that make the collection unique in its readability.
McGee also serves as a board member of Poetry Center San Jose, a non-profit offering programs and events that promote diverse literary expression. He wants to help local literary and performance art communities outgrow some of the traditional rigidity between performer and audience. “A lot of people perform as if the audience isn’t there, like they’re uncomfortable having a conversation, but performance isn’t that different from a conversation. Real conversation,” he says, “isn’t just about you. It’s about everyone involved. It has to be an equal blend of both. The whole time I’m performing, I’m listening to the audience. If you listen, they’ll tell you what they need.”
Video and synopsis by David Perez
Photography by Gregory Cortez