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Teatro ZinZanni accused of sexually inappropriate audience participation

Teatro ZinZanni is facing a social media backlash after an attendee complained of sexually inappropriate audience participation.

RELATED: Teatro ZinZanni relocates to Marymoor Park

“The show can be a little bawdy,” KIRO Radio’s John Curley said upon hearing news that an audience member complained of inappropriate sexual contact at a recent Teatro ZinZanni performance.

“And realize that when you go in,” he said. “Maybe they should do the same thing that they do with other live performances. Before the show they will say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, strobe lights will be used … and at one point there will be full-frontal nudity.’”

Teatro ZinZanni is a live dinner show that includes aspects of the circus and cabaret. The Stranger reports a firestorm followed the woman’s complaint she posted on Facebook about the performance at Marymoor Park.

“There’s food of course, but it’s heavy audience participation, which a lot of people don’t realize,” co-host Tom Tangney explained. “And this particular woman didn’t realize the kind of audience participation involved. So he pushes a handkerchief down her cleavage, walks away, comes back and he pulls it out and attached to that handkerchief is – ta da – a bra. It’s a magic trick. She felt it was inappropriate sexual contact. Not only did he stuff a handkerchief down her chest, then he took a fork and scrapes along the side of her breast as part of the magic trick and she felt it was very invasive.”

“Then later, the same character came up from behind and sort of thrusts his pelvis into her back and he has a vibrator that’s buzzing on,” he added. “And she felt unfairly touched. It made her uncomfortable.”

Teatro ZinZanni audience participation

The incident has prompted an apology from the company which will now remove the controversial aspects of the show. The character in question, Veronin, has also issued an apology for his act which he says was never intended to offend or make anyone feel unsafe.

While I have not experienced backlash about my bits in the past, I do understand that times have changed and I recognize that adjustments to my work are necessary in order to support a safe and welcoming environment for our guests.

But the situation has caused a debate over the level of awareness attendees should have at a Teatro ZinZanni show. Tom and Curley Show producer Patrick noted his experience at a performance where he was forced to change into women’s clothing in front of the crowd.

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“I have participated in the audience participation part of Teatro ZinZanni and have been touched in inappropriate ways,” he said. “For me, I was completely OK with it because I was having fun.”

“And you were a man,” Tom pointed out.

“An easy option would be that when you come in, either say you would be willing, or would not be willing, to be a part of the show,” Patrick said. “For me, it was a great night because I got to participate. I will always remember that.”

There is nothing on Teatro ZinZanni’s website that indicates the more mature aspects of its shows or the level of audience participation. The Stranger points out that there are no physical tickets issued either, which would be another option to place a warning. Aside from Teatro ZinZanni’s reputation and brand, online video of its shows may hint at its content and audience participation.

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