What is Theatre Outside Theatre?
Theatre Outside Theatre Takes Theatre Off the Stage
When you think of theatre you probably picture a group of actors presenting to an audience in a darkened space. The presentation takes place over a defined period of time and involves some degree of spectacle created through costumes, sound and scenery.
Trinity Theatre began as a traditional theatre ensemble in this popular sense, but before long, as well as performing in theatres, we began to take our shows to schools and recreation centres as well as outdoors to parks, markets and the streets. We nevertheless kept the traditional idea of theatre as a presentation witnessed by an audience. Over time, however, we began to expand theatre’s role. This meant going farther “outside” theatre by examining the fundamentals of the art form.
Theatre Outside Theatre Uses the Fundamentals of the Art Form in New Ways
Before we can understand theatre outside theatre it’s important to talk about the fundamentals of theatre. What are they?
- Live action is embodied by actors in a plot/storyline that’s presented within a defined timeframe.
- The audience witnesses this action and relates to it, primarily through observation, anticipation, expectation, reflection and fulfillment.
- Themes are embedded in the plot/storyline.
- As they witness the combination of plot, character and theme the audience draws meaning from the presentation.
Theatre Outside Theatre Expands the Roles of the Audience & Performers
When we’re at a movie, watching TV or watching a play, we tend to place a great deal of value on performance and entertainment. Moving to theatre outside theatre means changing this emphasis. It might help to think of it like this: If traditional theatre can be compared to traditional visual art (i.e., a landscape or portrait) then theatre outside theatre is like abstract art. It uses the same fundamentals as traditional art, but it breaks all the rules.
In our events and workshops we still use plot and themes and make a presentation within a defined timeframe. The audience is still led through an experience to internalize a message… but the roles of the audience and performers are expanded.
The audience goes from being passive observers in a darkened theatre space to becoming active participants. They not only witness the performance but also take part in it through their immediate reflection and collaboration with the actors and other audience members.
The experience of the performer is also expanded. Rather than being a distanced presenter up on the stage alone, they also become a coach, a mentor and a witness.