What are the benefits of taking theatre out of 'the theatre'...

Samuel Javid, 21 June 2012

Attended by: Verity & Gary (OtF Theatre Company), Louise (writer), Suba (director)

The benefits of performing in unconventional spaces were discussed in terms of...


The group identified the motivators for audience attendance in traditional theatre spaces and how these differ when the performance is happening in a pub/park/balcony/car park/market place/unused building/hotel/tunnel/bus...... the list goes on and on! It was agreed that on the whole audiences expect theatre to be in a comfortable, formally structured environment - so by shattering these norms the performance is able to appeal to audiences who feel ‘theatre’ is not for them. It allows for an access to culture in ways that theatre buildings cannot; the flexibility and mobile nature of the performance creates a platform that can be inserted into a community and increase engagement with culture at a grassroots level.

Whilst broadening audience reach it also creates opportunities for targeted marketing; performances are able to engage a specific section of society e.g. students, over 60's, simply by the correct location choice (and of course the correct content).

....also it is very exciting - so people will come just for that!


Site specific performances seem to be very attractive to journalists; if the space used has local or national history, or whether it is normally an unused space, it has the advantage of providing editors with an easily usable angle and story. It also ensure that the uniqueness of the pieces can be communicated effectively to potential audiences through the inherent originality of the space chose.

Many theatre companies are solely inspired by new spaces and use there methodology as a way to build a evolving reputation. The example discussed was PunchDrunk.

Aesthetics / Artistic

There are several business motivated benefits, however theatre cannot be discussed without commenting on its artistic side.

Taking theatre out of the theatre often inspires creativity in both playwrights and directors and the content of the performance is shaped by the ambience of the space. This creates depth and new accessible layers to both the artistic process and the final outcome of the performance.

A fun session!


spaces, theatre, audiences, site specific