Creative Performance Spaces
As drama educators, we all know a purpose-built theatre is not needed in order to put on a performance with our students. This has many benefits, particularly for schools with limited resources and/or budgets.
A colleague recently told me a story about a theatre show she saw in Melbourne performed in a shipping container. How the hell a cast of actors and audience fit inside a shipping container, I will never know! (I think this was the inaugural Container Festival last year by Monash University Theatre Students <MUST>).
Wouldn’t it be great to hear stories from others about the most unusual or creative spaces they have either been in as an audience member or decided to use with their students for a play? Comment below if you have an example.
Whilst at Deakin we did a whole unit on alternative performance spaces. One task was to perform the same scene, in two different performance spaces, we performed the same scene on a long set of stairs and afterwards in a men’s room.
For the final performance of the semester we performed in federation square.
Back in the 1980s when I did my BA in English and Theatre Arts at Rolle College in England, myself and two friends performed in and and on top of a red telephone box. My friend was straddled on top and ‘gave birth’ to me as I rolled out of the box – ah, those were the days!!!
In keeping with the idea that drama can be performed any where, a few years ago I had a challenging class of year 9/10’s whom I told could perform their created solo’s anywhere in the school. They each chose a location and we travelled to that location for their performance. Traditional space were picked – school stage, outside the canteen, the library – but also cheeky ones – the main staffroom. The best one was a girl who wanted to perform in the boys toilets – yeah, she really just wanted to peak in them. But after her performance I was able to tie it into the Peter Brooks performance of the Marat de Sade, performed in the toilets of Paris, with Glenda Jackson as one of the cast. Melvyn Bragg (where is he these days) had done a fabulous program on Brooks and his work and this very spooky performance was one of the snippets displayed. The great advantage of the toilets, as all shower singers will know, is the acoustics!
I once directed a play in a wharf building in Sydney. Luckily it was an Athol Fugard play “Hello and Goodbye” set in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, so the sounds of ships’ horns and waves lapping worked quite well.
I saw “The Mahabarata” by Peter Brook in a quarry near Adelaide back in 1988. The production went from dusk to dawn and was spell binding from start to finish! It even seemed as though the tech crew had control over the moon, clouds and wind (which whipped up at just the right time).
One place in which I want to see a production is the home of Theatre du Soleil in Paris. La Cartoucherie was an old munitions factory before being taken over by the company. I’ve seen quite a few of their incredible productions on DVD but would love to be there in person! Here’s a link to a great doco about Ariane Mnouchkine, director of the company: http://www.terramedplus.tv/en/videos/ariane-mnouchkine-laventure-du-theatre-du-soleil#.VG53EIfrmpI
Continuing the shipping container theme, I recently watched a production of The Container available on Digital Theatre (digitaltheatre.com). It was exceptional. The entire show, lit only by torchlight, is performed in the central passageway of the container with audience seated either side.