Totally Spaced Out

Regarding the use of space and occupying a space, Peter Brook wrote that ‘I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage.’1 This supported the discussion that we had in our seminar regarding how a generic theatre is generally just ‘us’ and ‘them’, whereas in site specific it is also ‘there’ as it involves the place and so a relationship is needed. Shakespeare in the park for instance, would be an example of a site-generic piece as the play that would be performed is not specific to the park in which it is performed in. These distinctions are key when it comes to performing as the audience and performer needs to understand that the performance has a relationship with the place otherwise the performance would lose all emotion and soul, and in turn would look rather bizarre.

This early research began with us identifying what behaviours are common to a place. For example in a library taking books from shelves is a common occurrence. And so we progressed from there; using the books, the people, and the shelves as a catalyst to see how we can work with this and incorporate it into our performance (or rather our performance into the space). Identifying the coded pathway that is often found in public places that leads the people in it around, led us to contrast this with the desire path whereby one resists the coded pathway and takes charge of their own route. For example the signs round the library directing people from different floors and constant ‘WAY OUT’ signs allowed us to think of new an innovative ways in which to resist them.

Becoming used to the place of the library and through exploring it, we were constantly discovering more and more creative ways to work with it. Emma Govan et al wrote that ‘in creating a living space or environment within the performance area attention is drawn to the ways in which the place of a building can be turned into a malleable space.’2 This early research was the critical foundation as part of creating our performance as the process of making the ‘place’ a ‘space’ in which to work in, felt very intimate between us as performers, as this personal almost ‘secret’ was something we wanted to keep sacred. And so performing in the place of the library we have ultimately made the transition from ‘place’ to ‘space’.

Word count: 431

  1. Brook, Peter (1968) The Empty Space, London: Penguin, p. 11 []
  2. Govan, Emma and Nicholson, Helen and Katie Normington (2007) Making a Performance: Devising Histories and Contemporary Practices, Oxon and New York: Routledge. []
Posted: January 30th, 2013
Categories: Early Research
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