Arts & Culture

Exploring the Concept of Space in Theatre 

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In a theatre space where the performance takes place, the audience is an integral part and constantly needs to be dealt with. It is a space where a relationship is established between the two. The dynamics of this relationship changes according to the space in which the performance is taking place. For instance, in a street play, the audience surrounds the actor and needs to be interacted with constantly. The actor has to engage in a conversation with the audience on four sides at any given time. There is a dynamic change in a proscenium stage where the actor is performing on a raised platform and there is a certain kind of detachment. There are other kinds of theatre spaces like surround stage, thrust stage, arena stage etc. In a surround stage, the audience sits in the centre and the performance unfolds all around them. In a thrust stage, the actor is surrounded on three sides by the audience whereas in an arena stage the actors are completely surrounded by the audience and entrances are made through the audience at the four corners of the stage.

Therefore every director utilises a theatre space in his own unique way to build a relationship with the audience. For instance, Richard Schechner’s environmental productions like Dionysus in 69, Makbeth and Commune aimed to increase the interaction between an actor and the audience. Thus the distinction between actor’s space and audience’s space was removed with the latter being encouraged to participate in the performance.

While I was reading on this topic I came across another really interesting point on the difference between physical space and time and dramatic space and time. The audience is transported to a fictional space and time and enjoys this experience while never leaving their seats. Thus the distinction between a physical space and dramatic space is blurred. Therefore visual setting operating in a theatre space plays a very important role. It might make the audience’s journey comfortable or renders it uneasy.

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Anukriti Mishra

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