Tuesday, September 14, 2010


If I’m arguing for a return to the notion that theatre is not just an experience you have but a place you go to congregate with others and share that experience, we had better for a moment consider the site-specific. This is a category of work that like so many others is regrettably hidebound by our continuing failure to distinguish form from content. Which is to say that our excited focus has been on the site. Partly this is media-driven – do me a Titus Andronicus in a bus station and you can have a photo across three columns. A previously unused site will seem to equal novelty, even if what’s placed there is no more than an arrangement of reupholstered deckchairs on the same old Titanic. What’s deep and culturally urgent about the site-specific is not the site but the specific, which theatre has always struggled with. Prefabricated theatre is always conceived in a blur of generalities. To be specific is to be responsive not just to the site of the work but to its audience, to its social context, to its cultural moment, to the weather. Theatre is made here and now specifically between us, and whatever is not is not worthy of the name.

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