Why is theatre always in a theatre?

Beka Haigh, 5 October 2012

Present: Ben, Beka, Ben, Damian, Marianne, Joanne

Where does indoor theatre stop and outdoor theatre begin? Easy question to answer!

A better question was: What is outdoor theatre?

  • Taking plays / indoor theatre to non theatre spaces

  • Devising work for non theatre spaces

  • To get a bigger audience (more easily), does outdoor theatre need an attachment to a more established outlet, such as a festival or a well known, established theatre? These spaces often welcome work that isn't performed in the usual theatre spaces. This gives the work a ‘seal of approval’.

  • TRANSFORM is the festival run by @WYPlayhouse to introduce their audience to work which doesn't sit in traditional theatre spaces. It is a different offer to the regular Playhouse offer. The festival has become themed and each event takes place within a radius of the theatre building, under the theme (My Leeds, My City).

  • Examples of theatre companies that are doing interesting intervention work that is affiliated with well known theatre spaces: Look Left Look Right, Belt Up theatre, Slung Low, Invisible Flock, Third Angel. These companies make recognisably innovative work and have relationships with big venues. They're interesting and interested in making work with specific venues and have good relationships with them. Good model for emerging companies - get your work seen in the right places.

  • Is ticketing outdoor events important? Do they need to be attached to a venue or an event? What happens to the feeling of the work if it is? If it isn't?

  • The psychology of space (particularly outdoor / public space) is interesting - that certain (public) spaces lend themselves to being accepted by audiences as performance venues. Public spaces are designed with a purpose in mind - sometimes this includes outdoor performance.

  • Street / outdoor theatre artists often a have a different ‘contract’ with their audience. They invade public spaces - they are active - they seek out their audience.

  • Audiences (particularly in Britain) have a fear of engagement with outdoor work.

  • There are different terms or there is different language for work that is essentially very similar in principle - the definition of the work changes: street theatre, outdoor art, public intervention, live art, flash mob... Each bears a different kind of connotation for audiences and for the venues or spaces where the work sits... Why is this? Should we have a blanket term that encompasses everything?

Or not? Should we label our work accordingly? What audiences would we get if we did this? Do we alienate people from our audiences if we give our work certain labels?

  • Do we alter our work to be more approachable for street / outdoor audiences? What if the work is part of a festival and / or free to attend?

  • Can work that is created for indoors sit in an outdoor space? Existing plays can be presented outdoors, in the same way (fourth wall theatre). Can devised theatre do the same? Does the work have to be adapted for an outdoor audience? The answer is that it probably depends on the setting.

  • Modern technology can be the key to creating an innovative kind of outdoor work... New ways of engaging audiences, audiences can be live / online / both, performances can take place and be viewed simultaneously across locations.

  • Outdoor work can be an integration of many forms of art and can incorporate technology

  • Shame there is a divide between what happens in the ‘indoor’ theatre world and what happens in the ‘outdoor / street’ theatre world... There is an open space meeting called ‘For the Love of It’ which has these D&D conversations but in a specifically street theatre context. It would have been nice to have had more street theatre artists HERE to debate with those that make work for traditional theatre spaces, or those who make work in collaboration with these theatres.


Theatre, Audience, space, integration, public, interaction, engagement, audience, street, place, location, non-traditional, intervention, outdoor, theatre