Environmental Theater

ENVIRONMENTAL THEATER Veldig kort oppsummert:

Richard Schecher puts forth a kind of continuum for theatrical events:

He has on one end the impure theatre: life and public events like parades and demonstrations.

At the other end, is pure theatre: art

Moving from the impure theater towards the pure theater we first have happenings. Then what he calls Environmental Theater.

Moving from impure to the pure we find an increasing distinction between the audience and the actors.  In Environmental theater there is a series of interactions with the audience in a way that traditional or pure theater does not allow. But is far more structured than a political demonstration in terms of “doers” and “witnesses” (to retroactively apply Grotowski’s terminology from the 1990s).

Richard Schechner’s Six Axioms for Environmental Theater:

ONE: The Theaterical Event is a set of related transations.

TWO: All the space is used for the performance; All the space is used for audience

THREE: The theatrical event can take place either in a totally transformed space or in “found space”

Note that this does not mean that the performances are necessarily site-specific in their conception – though each performance experience will site-specific in their experience.

FOUR: Focus is flexible and variable

Note that this does not necessarily mean “immerisive”. The performance may have a multi-focus.

FIVE: All production elements speak their own language

Like Gordon Craig and others, Richard Schechner believed that all of the theatrical elements can have equal value in a production. The actor is not necessarily more important than the lighting. However, while he allows that these elements might work together to create a whole, they might –  through multi-focus – not.

SIX: The text need be neither the starting point nor the goal of a production. There may be no text at all.

Michael Smith describes working with the production Victims:

I do think that the text of the play […] is the first ting, the original impusle, and the final arbiter. […] We did not “do” Ionesco’s play; we “did with it.” We confronted it, searched among its words and themes, built around and through it. And we came out with our own thing.

Schechner, Richard. “6 Axioms for Evironmental Theatre”. The Drama Review. Vol. 12, No. 3. 1968.