‘Implacing’ Theatre Practice: A Theoretical Framework
Despite the increased attention that has been directed towards the function of space and place in the production and reception of theatrical performance little sustained academic attention has been directed towards backstage space and the use of such space by theatre practitioners. In Space in Performance (1999) Gay McAuley concludes that this exclusion of backstage space indicates the extent to which many studies of theatre architecture “are in fact concerned with the building as aesthetic object rather than with its function in a complex social process.” (9)
In this paper I will articulate a theoretical framework through which the function of theatre architecture in performance processes might be better understood. Beginning with Edward Casey’s phenomenological approach to ‘place’, and informed by the work of Edward Soja, I will argue that scholars investigating theatre architecture must take into consideration ‘perceived’ space (space as it is empirically measured), ‘conceived’ space (space as it is represented), and ‘lived’ space (space as it is experienced). The meaning of any place, especially a built place, is always complex and contested, and it is the very tension between ‘perceived’, ‘conceived’, and ‘lived’ space that constitutes the ‘matrix of sensibility’ within which any place is made meaningful.
Such a framework encourages a more holistic understanding of the vital relationship between theatre architecture and theatrical performance and opens up avenues for insight into how theatrical performance is made and re-made in different cultural settings and historical moments.