environmental theatre

Definition

Theater

  • A form of theater that emerged in the late 1960s, inheritingmany ideas from the happening. The new term was popularizedby the US director and critic Richard Schechner (1934 - ).In 1968 he published the axioms of environmental theater, placingit between traditional theater on the one hand and public events anddemonstrations on the other; his examples of environmental theaterincluded the Polish Laboratory Theatre (see poor theater),the Living Theatre, and the Open Theatre.

    The environmental theater required no text, and its main featurewas a mingling of actors and spectators. Schechner said "allthe space is used for performance; all the space is used for the audience":members of the audience were both 'scene-makers' and 'scene-watchers',as bystanders are part of the street scene they view.

    In 1967 Schechner formed his own company, the PerformanceGroup, which was housed in a converted garage filled with towers andplatforms used by actors and spectators. The following year he producedand directed their first offering, Dionysus in 69, an adaptationof Euripides's The Bacchae. In 1973 the group presented SamShepard's The Tooth of Crime, and in 1975 Bertolt Brecht'sMother Courage and Her Children. Schechner left the companyin 1980.

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