15 Critical Environmental Theatre Resources

Like site-specific theatre, Environmental Theatre aims to eliminate the barrier between actor and spectator by performing works in non-traditional spaces such as shipping containers, quarries or elevators. The form was made famous by Richard Schechner in the 1960s and 70s, who in turn was influenced by concepts introduced by Jerzy Grotowski, a Polish theatre practitioner who experimented with seating the audience within the performance space.

Environmental theatre often incorporates elements of site-specific theatre, a type of theatre designed to be performed in a specific location. However, while site-specific theatre focuses on the unique qualities of a specific location, environmental theatre is more concerned with creating an immersive experience that transforms the space into a theatrical environment.

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6 Axioms of Environmental Theatre / Richard Schechner

  • The theatrical event is a set of related transactions.
  • All the space is used for performance; all the space is used for audience.
  • The theatrical event can take place either in a totally transformed space or in a ‘found’ space.
  • Focus is flexible and variable.
  • All production elements speak in their own language.
  • The text need be neither the starting point nor the goal of the production. There may be no text at all.
Environmental Theatre School Library

Environmental Theatre Resources

Environmental Theatre – Britannica: This Britannica entry provides an overview of environmental theatre, emphasizing its aim to heighten audience awareness by eliminating the distinction between the audience’s and the actors’ space, a key feature of the New Theatre movement of the 1960s.

Richard Schechner – Wikipedia: This Wikipedia page offers comprehensive information about Richard Schechner, including his contributions to Environmental Theatre, his formation of The Performance Group, and a list of his key publications and directed productions that have influenced the theatre form.

The Drama Teacher: From Theatre Links’ companion site, this article details thirty conventions of Environmental Theatre, plus fifty suitable locations for student Environmental Theatre productions.

Environmental Theatre -- TDF's Theatre Dictionary

Richard Schechner 6 Axioms of Environmental Theatre: Schechner’s manifesto on the characteristics of environmental theatre titled “6 Axioms of Environmental Theatre”.

Environmental Theatre Productions – Britannica: This resource highlights Richard Schechner’s environmental productions such as Dionysus in 69, Makbeth, and Commune, which were performed in his Performing Garage in New York City. It sheds light on how each production was uniquely shaped to conform to the play, creating different audience frameworks.

TDF Theatre Dictionary Useful entry on the characteristics of environmental theatre.

Environmental Theatre

The New York Times Historical 1974 article about environmental theatre in the early days of the movement in New York City.

Dionysus in 69 New York University: Archival video of the first environmental theatre performance of The Performance Group in 1968 titled “Dionysus ’69”, Schechner’s adaptation of Euripides play “The Bachae”. Warning: includes nudity. Read the summary notes to understand the nature of the immersive experience of this production.

Wikipedia Dionysus in 69: Article outlining the project details of Richard Schechner and The Performance Group’s environmental theatre performance of “Dionysus in 69”.

Actor-Audience Relationship: This academic paper focuses on the actor-audience relationship in the immersive theatre experience of environmental theatre.

Environmental Theatre Quarry

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