WARNING: The opinions expressed below are DEFINITELY those of The CoLab Theatre Company! Learn more at www.colabtheatre.org!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Discussion: New Venues

Last week, I asked you for your ideas, desires and demands for a new space in Boston. Before I go into my thoughts, here are some of the responses we recieved:

Lindsay Eagle, Artistic Director of The Independant Drama Society writes:

Wouldn't it be nice if there were a small, affordable theater space in the
theater district downtown? Tucked onto a side street somewhere, a couple blocks
off of Tremont. A basement space that must be discovered; you think that
nothing's there, then... voila! There's a theater back here! High ceilings and
black walls; a flexible space... you can cram 70 audience members in there at
the most, depending on how you set the room up—and even that many feels like an

John J. King, playwright/director/artist of J-Rex Plays muses:

I would like to see a club-type space where you can get some food and drinks
before/after/at intermission. Like the Burren, but with a separate/more
practical stage space (perhaps separate/in a back room from the eating area). Or
like Oberon but on a smaller, simpler, cozier scale.

So it seems the general mood gravitates towards small, affordable and relaxed venues. I've discussed this with friends and collegues in the past: The future of theatre lies in the reestablishment of "The Event". The current status quo calls for a very passive audience response. Clear fourth wall, silent listening and traditional elevated playing space.

But is this really where the future of theatre lies? Non-traditional spaces are nothing new. But up to this point in history, the mainstream view of theatre points to two camps: 1) Traditional, linear theatre and 2) Abstract avant-garde theatre.

Both of these styles have their place, but the future beckons for a third way: We can take the lessons we've learned from the experiments of the avant-garde and find a practical application for traditional linear theatre.

I am working on a play called "Perfect Pitch: A Post-Punk Play with Music". In my vision, the music of this show is just as an important factor as the story itself. This is no musical, however, and thus the music cannot be approached as a seperate entity from the event. They write music, play music and listen to music, in the same manner that we do in everyday life. This show will ideally transform the space into a dive bar/rock club. The audience will be engulfed in the music, along with the characters. The characters aren't singing the songs to tell a story. Rather, the characters and the audience learn and experience from the music together. The music isn't a representation of their journey. We will watch actors struggle to write music, find their life answers in music and eventually make their decisions based on the emotional reaction they have to the music. In essence, we will be watching characters respond to the music in the same way we hope they respond to us.

I cannot concieve of doing this show in a traditional space. The smaller, the better. If we can create these new venues, I hope we can inspire future playwrights to begin writing plays for the future, rather than writing plays for the past.

What kind of plays should we be writing? What do you think the future of the theatre is?


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