The purpose of the Theatre Architecture Working Group is to explore all that theatre architecture has been historically, is at present, and might be in the future. We consider built projects alongside unbuilt or speculative architectures, studying these from a wide range of practical and theoretical perspectives. We continue to investigate the ways in which architecture creates audience; the ways in which space can be manipulated to bring performers and spectators into dynamic relationship inside auditoria; and the ways in which the design of other areas inside and outside the theatre building conditions the experience(s) of audiences and practitioners. In addition we are interested in the active role played by theatre environments - whether purpose-built or 'found' - in shaping theatre and performance across cultures.
We intend to recruit additional practitioner-members (architects, theatre consultants, technical directors, etc.) as well as academic members from schools of architecture in order to balance the strong representation we have from academic drama departments internationally.
Following the IFTR World Congress in Munich, 2010, Dorita Hannah, Franklin J. Hildy and Juliet Rufford agreed to edit a book-length collection of essays on theatre architecture from the work of the Theatre Architecture Working Group. The editors met in London in September 2010 to discuss ways of approaching this task. We will select several papers previously presented by the group to be developed further at next year's meetings and will solicit papers on topics needed to round out the collection. In addition, we are looking at other outlets for the work of the group, including a special issue of a peer reviewed journal to be edited by other members of our Working Group.
As the number of papers submitted for consideration by our group continues to rise, we will be exploring alternative ways of organizing our sessions at IFTR conferences. We intend to set up an on-line environment (powered by Blackboard or possibly Google docs), that will allow papers to be posted in advance and discussed on-line before our meetings, allowing us to focus on themes, trends and new ideas in our sessions rather than on the presentation of papers. This on-line environment will help members to integrate work done outside the WG with official WG presentations and publications, creating greater group cohesion. It will provide a forum for members to discuss on-going research projects as well as offering an inter-active 'newsletter.' We hope this will raise the profile of the Theatre Architecture Working Group, extending knowledge of our activities and achievements beyond the current IFTR/FIRT framework. Potentially, the Theatre Architecture WG will also have the opportunity to use this site as an electronic journal for the dissemination of members' work.
Our calls for papers over the next four years will invite historians, theorists and practitioners of architecture/design or theatre/performance to engage with their peers in a challenging yet convivial environment, in which members:
- Explore the history and historiography of theatre architecture &/or the multiple ways in which considerations of space and form can inform theatre history and historiography
- Propose rigorous, imaginative methodologies for the documentation, preservation, conservation and archiving of theatre architecture
- Ask what is at stake for theatre architects, their practitioner clients and audiences in theatre restoration, renovation, reconstruction, rehabilitation or interventions in older theatres?
- Reflect on innovations in engineering, stage technology &/or new technologies and thier interactions with theatre architecture.
- Examine how social and spatial activity and identity are intertwined in theatre spaces.
- Develop theoretical paradigms appropriate to theatre and architecture, and to the relationship between them.
- Provide new ways of perceiving and producing theatre architecture.
- Offer analyses of the theatre building as 'empty' space, haunted house, labyrinth, eroticised space, 'neutral' container, live space, sacred space, ludic space, time machine, space that keeps us 'in our place' or spaces that provide for our social comfort.
- Problematise cherished orthodoxies about theatre architecture
Next meeting: we intend to hold an interim meeting at the Prague Quadrennial, June 16-26, 2011
Last meeting: Munich 2010 and at every IFTR conference since Helsinki in 2006.