What happens when you take theatre out of the theatre?

Today I watched a piece of theatre in a community centre space. It was so exciting for me to see such a high quality piece of work with full set and top-class performers, taking place in an every day space, full of families and children.

It made me think how often we see work of this quality outside of traditional theatre venues.

I have recently started working for an organisation that does a lot of this through their festival; taking work in to libraries, community centres and schools. What struck me with this piece though was the scale of the production; this was not a small scale piece by any stretch – it was more reminiscent of a west end production. 

It’s commonly understood that theatres and other arts spaces can at times alienate some people and not everyone feels comfortable in these environments. It’s for this reason that they have audience development plans and, more often than not, members of staff dedicated to visitor experience. 

Is it fair for us to expect people to come to a theatre to watch work that is publicly funded? Should we be doing more to take the highest quality art direct in to communities? 

For me theatre’s have a sense of magic, but if they aren’t serving the wider community what is their role?

I’m really interested to hear peoples thoughts for and against taking work out of theatres.

*Featured Image: Taken in Budapest of a building… not a theatre… just a building I liked*

One thought on “What happens when you take theatre out of the theatre?

  1. As one of the strands of our work at Charnwood Arts I used to run a touring consortium for dance, theatre and music for around ten years working with a couple of conventional theatres but mostly schools, village halls and outdoor spaces. The magic of transforming familiar spaces into performance venues, the intimacy this brought with the performers gave every show a new and heightened level of significance.

    One of the most exciting things for me was to see young people (14-19) migrating between venues – across different villages and towns to experience a diversity of different work. The impact was magnified by workshops, residencies and longer community projects whenever we could afford to run them or when they were part of longer term development programmes.

    To be able to experience the magic of live performance so directly in the community where you live creates ripples that last for a long long time after the show has gone…

    Like

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