Theatre Beyond the TheatreAs the art form evolves, theatre performance appears to escape the theatre space. Artists create work designed to be performed outside theatre buildings. Frequently they stage work in open spaces, postindustrial areas, desolate locations, and in the streets of our cities, as they depart the traditional theatrical building.
Even when artists produce their work within the theatre building itself they often seek nontraditional spaces such as cellars, attics, technical rooms, or corridors. This shift in production practice seems to be more than a marginal phenomenon. It is a change that appears to draw the audience into closer proximity with the artists.
As these new production techniques develop, theatre artists frequently employ modern techniques including electronic media that may give live performance the feel of a video game. Artists also draw from new performance techniques and employ visual media in their productions. In doing so, they create a new world of theatre influenced by light and music that occasionally renders literature tangential.
Perhaps this marks a return to the origins of theatre itself when actors, singers, and storytellers presented directly to their audiences in city squares, on streets, and in meeting places not created for theatrical purposes.
Is this a victory for visual culture and/or mass culture, or is it a transitional phenomenon? Are we critics able to describe this phenomenon and give it a name? How do we address this dramatic, spatial, and aesthetic reconsideration of contemporary theatre?