Creating Outdoor Theatre

Convener(s):Nina Ayres

Participants:  Tom Bailey, Anne Hirth, Chloe Preece, Stella Scott, Charlie Ryder, Sara Perks, Harun Morrison

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations: 

Outdoor Theatre is one of the largest growing sectors of British Theatre.

Still not taken seriously enough or critiqued by the papers as often as Indoor theatre.

Outdoor theatre should be created as ‘Outdoor theatre’ as opposed to putting indoor theatre on outdoors. The outdoors should be taken full advantage of and never ignored.

Can intimate theatre for achieved outdoor or will it always be shouty and brash.

Conclusion was that it is possible as audiences can be large or small and made to focus on subtle detail, however we did think that there may be little point in doing this.

The fundamental question needs to be asked…’Why am I putting this show on out of doors?

If it would work better indoors then put it on indoors.

Outdoor theatre has its own unique constraints and benefits and these should be played to. The whole space should be used to its fullest advantage incorporating the sky, distance, air everything.

Are peoples expectations of outdoor theatre low?

Many people don’t seem to get annoyed by the poor quality of some outdoor theatre shows as they have had a nice picnic and watched the sun go down in a nice setting. It does seem that many theatre companies are not pushed to clean up there act as they are guaranteed an audience of often National trust members.

We discussed the different kinds of outdoor theatre such as promenade, large scale and community looking at the relationship each has with its audience members. We felt an audience can become more fully engaged in the action in promenade performance.

Although I realise this is shameless self promotion (and I wasn’t going to mention it but Lee Simpson told me to) I have actually just finished writing a book entitled ‘Creating Outdoor Theatre’ by Crowood Press, due to be released this summer and I think you may find it interesting. There is a quote in it by the aforementioned Lee Simpson which is maybe why he told me to write it down.

Good Luck to all of you who want to work out of doors, I’ll keep my fingers crossed it doesn’t rain!