CMU School of Drama

Monday, March 13, 2017

Are Theatres Being Replaced with Arenas?

OnStage: Going to see a play, a musical, ballet or a dance performance mostly means that you are going to the theatre to enjoy a night of glitz and glam in usually an elderly, stunning building or maybe a modern auditorium with contemporary architecture. One of the highlights attending a show for me is definitely stepping inside a building with an aroma of positivity and history, for example the Edinburgh Playhouse is my favourite theatre purely for the atmosphere you get stepping into the auditorium.


Simone Schneeberg said...

I am personally a big fan of the more intimate theatrical spaces. I like when you can't really see the other audience members around you in the dark or when you look up at the performers there is no chance to catch non performers in your view. I know I am picker than many of my friends who don't mind an in the round or alley way show where you can see the audience clearly on the other side of the stage, but I really enjoy having the show and only the show in focus. It is easier to get lost in the story that way, easier to appreciate the artistry without other distractions. There is also the beauty and heightened experience of walking into a room with gilded ceilings and velvet chairs and sparkling chandeliers. To me, that is a part of the show itself and adds levels to it, especially when the environment is tailored to the performance. I really hope shows do not being to go the way of arenas; I feel that cheapens the experience by distracting from the show and taking away that rich environment of a good old theater. As the author wrote, I too would take red fabric chairs over plastic seats any day.

Alex Talbot said...

While I see the point the author is making, and in many ways I agree with it, the author seems in many ways uninformed or misinformed about why companies would be moving to this style of performance space. To me, it seems like clearly these are more desirable because they are much more versatile, uniform, and easier to work in. Especially for a group like Cirque, at least from what I know about production, an arena would be much more desirable--it allows for much more seating, giving the group more net profits. In addition, a lot of these spaces would be outfitted with loading docks and much more easy ways to load in and out shows like these quickly and effectively--usually they are on the outskirts of a city, giving them loading space, and they are built with that in mind. In addition, I would imagine that these spaces are much more uniform in design. Theater spaces vary so much, while hockey and basketball rinks are standard sized, making them much easier to design around and making it easier for the production team to move from space to space without many surprises or drastic changes in size or space design. While I agree that theaters are much more comfortable and intimate, arenas are certainly easier for the production team, and I think that the average consumer doesn't care too much about the style of venue--though I may be wrong.