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Site-specific Theatre

In this section, you’ll find content about work created for and performed outside of conventional theatre spaces. Artists describe the reasons for making such work, and the challenges that come along with it. Consider starting with Anne Hamburger’s “The Why and How of Site-Specific” or Gab Cody’s essay on writing for immersive and site-informed experiences.

The Latest

Site-Specific and Devised Theatre in Lebanon
Podcast
Site-Specific and Devised Theatre in Lebanon
With Sahar Assaf & Zeina Daccache
by Nabra Nelson, Marina J. Bergenstock, Sahar Assaf, Zeina Daccache
20 April 2022
Learning from Sources: Performance and Climate Crisis in Four Brazilian Works
Essay
Learning from Sources: Performance and Climate Crisis in Four Brazilian Works
by Martin Domecq
20 April 2022
Side-yard: On the Commons, the Neighborhood, Grief, and Not Making Theatre While Still Making Theatre
Essay
Side-yard: On the Commons, the Neighborhood, Grief, and Not Making Theatre While Still Making Theatre
by Richard Newman
15 March 2022
Kunafa and Shay Teaser Image.
Site-Specific and Devised Theatre in Lebanon
Podcast

Site-Specific and Devised Theatre in Lebanon

With Sahar Assaf & Zeina Daccache

20 April 2022

Site-specific performances have the possibility to truly make all the world a stage. To produce site-specific and devised theatre performances in the United States and abroad, artists must engage with the questions of the politics of any space, what communities inhabit or use it, and who is invited into it. Sahar Assaf, a Lebanese theatremaker and the new artistic director of Golden Thread Productions, and Zeina Daccache, an actor, director, and the founder of Catharsis: Lebanese Center for Drama Therapy come together to talk about site-specific and devised theatre pieces in Lebanon, the rest of the MENA world, and the United States.

A shirtless man holds up a book.
Learning from Sources: Performance and Climate Crisis in Four Brazilian Works
Essay

Learning from Sources: Performance and Climate Crisis in Four Brazilian Works

20 April 2022

In Martin Domecq’s contribution to the Climate Emergency series, he puts four Brazillian performance art pieces in conversation to draw upon the poetic, political, and civic lessons they offer. These performances—which range from installations to solo and group performances—model possible paradigms that work against ecological crisis.

A parade of men women and children carrying a flag.
Side-yard: On the Commons, the Neighborhood, Grief, and Not Making Theatre While Still Making Theatre
Essay

Side-yard: On the Commons, the Neighborhood, Grief, and Not Making Theatre While Still Making Theatre

15 March 2022

Play House is a collectively stewarded performance space near the border of Detroit and Hamtramck that has become a place of convening and creation for the neighborhood. Richard Newman, a co-manager of the space and co-director of The Hinterlands ensemble, traces connections between creative practice, community, grief, and an outdoor ramp at Play House.

Actors holding various bright-colored plants in the middle of a park with an audience circled around them.
Island Hopping in New York City for Theatre: How Live, In-Person Theatre Is Being Reimagined as it Reemerges
Essay

Island Hopping in New York City for Theatre: How Live, In-Person Theatre Is Being Reimagined as it Reemerges

2 August 2021

Jonathan Mandell reflects on a number of live, in-person productions that have taken place in New York City over the course of summer 2021.

A blue thing surrounded by indoor palm trees.
Pandemic Dreams
Essay

Pandemic Dreams

8 June 2021

Jonathan Mandell reflects on his experience of A Dozen Dreams, an art installation that began when twelve New York City-based women playwrights were asked: “What are you dreaming about right now?”

four actors posing for a photo
Beneath the Shadow of the Freeway
Essay

Beneath the Shadow of the Freeway

Virginia Grise’s Stage Adaptation of Helena Maria Viramontes’s Their Dogs Came with Them

17 March 2021

Manuel Muñoz reflects on Virginia Grise’s adaptation of Their Dogs Came with Them, which took place in fall 2019 under the colossal concrete freeway ramps of the I-10 freeway that dissect South Tucson from the edge of the Sonoran Desert.

an actor kneeling onstage
A Summer on Fire, a Harvest Moon
Essay

A Summer on Fire, a Harvest Moon

8 February 2021

Caroline Sprague reflects on Shey Rivera Ríos’s recent piece, Fire Flowers and a Time Machine, transformative justice, the nonprofit industrial complex, and more.

a person standing behind a table with multiple handheld two-way radios
Fire Season
Essay

Fire Season

Making Site-Specific Theatre About Climate Change that Could Be Threatened by Climate Change

17 December 2020

Playwright and environmentalist Alice Stanley Jr. shares her experience of Capital W’s newest immersive theatre piece, Fire Season—a play about climate change that took place in the Santa Monica Mountains during this year’s wildfires.

exterior of a theatre space
Participatory Theatre
Essay

Participatory Theatre

Europe’s Game Changer

4 August 2019

verity healey does a deep-dive into the Our Stage – 4th European Bürgerbühne Festival, which took place in Dresden, Germany, in May 2019.

a group of people with their hands raised
Hearing Each Other Over the Gun Fire
Essay

Hearing Each Other Over the Gun Fire

24 June 2019

Several months after Pittsburgh’s Quantam Theatre programmed The Gun Show, there was a mass shooting at a synagogue in the city. TJ Parker discusses how the company responded to the crisis, both through the play and through community engagement.

three panelists
Shifting Sands of Russian Theatre
Essay

Shifting Sands of Russian Theatre

Reporting from Moscow’s Golden Mask Festival

8 May 2019

Howard Shalwitz, Karen Houppert, and Yury Urnov reflect on the productions they saw at this year’s Golden Mask Theatre Festival in Moscow, Russia.

actors onstage
The Why and How of Site-Specific
Essay

The Why and How of Site-Specific

From Then to Now

2 May 2019

Anne Hamburger, founder of En Garde Arts, talks about the beginnings of her company, and, with it, the beginnings of site-specific theatre in New York City.

performer in white dress sits in the fiction section of the library
Making Theatre in Non-Traditional Venues
Essay

Making Theatre in Non-Traditional Venues

10 December 2018

Theatremaker Callie Nestleroth discusses devising a show for a library space and shares the process she developed when approaching new site-specific projects.

a set piece with cutouts of people on it
Teatro Línea de Sombra Connects with Portland, Oregon and the Pacific Northwest
Essay

Teatro Línea de Sombra Connects with Portland, Oregon and the Pacific Northwest

5 August 2018

Georgina Young-Ellis looks at the history of the innovative Mexican theatre company Teatro Línea de Sombra, its connection to Portland, Oregon, and two of their projects: Amarillo and Rebuilding Small Territories.

Using Storytelling and Dance to Transform a Community Space
Essay

Using Storytelling and Dance to Transform a Community Space

1 May 2018

Caroline Prugh discusses Kaimera Productions’ SPACES, a site-specific performance weaving together storytelling and dance that took place in June 2017 at the Harlem Arts Festival in New York City.

Fantômas
Essay

Fantômas

Revenge of the Image and the Wuzhen Theatre Festival

28 January 2018

Artistic Director Travis Preston on the cross-cultural collaboration of bringing Fantômas: Revenge of the Image from CalArts to the Wuzhen Theatre Festival.

How a Pop-up Theatre Company is Working to Redefine the Boston Fringe Scene
Essay

How a Pop-up Theatre Company is Working to Redefine the Boston Fringe Scene

4 August 2017

Justin J. Sacramone interviews Artistic Director Kyler Taustin about Black Box Theatre Project’s influence on Boston’s fringe theatre scene.

Theatre Without a Theatre
Essay

Theatre Without a Theatre

On Found Spaces and Creativity in the Twin Cities

6 May 2017

Cassandra Snow writes about the challenges and opportunities involved in producing theatre in non-traditional spaces.

My Tension Experience, Part 2
Essay

My Tension Experience, Part 2

2 November 2016

In this second installment, Megan Reilly discusses her participation in Ascension, the second phase of The Tension Experience, and reflects on agency for audience members in this immersive experience.

These Rooms
Essay

These Rooms

A Dynamic Theatrical Event Reveals Ireland’s Hidden Histories

26 October 2016

Talya Kingston on These Rooms, devised and directed by David Bolger and Louise Lowe, at the Dublin Theatre Festival.

Double Edge Theatre’s Latin American Cycle Builds Bridges Across Massachusetts
Essay

Double Edge Theatre’s Latin American Cycle Builds Bridges Across Massachusetts

20 October 2016

Josh Platt on Double Edge Theatre’s Latin American Spectacle in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, Cada Luna Azul / Once a Blue Moon in Ashfield, Massachusetts, and the Springfield Spectacle, in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Staging Local, Staying Small
Essay

Staging Local, Staying Small

25 September 2016

Kyna Hamill and Brianna Randolph discuss crafting Letters to Medford, a theatre performance by Two Roads Performance Projects in Massachusetts. 

My Tension Experience, Part 1
Essay

My Tension Experience, Part 1

Exploring Extreme Immersive Theatre

16 September 2016

In this first installment, Megan Reilly shares her experience with the first phase of The Tension Experience, a project that’s a cross between immersive theatre and an Alternate Reality Game.

Conversation with Colleen Rua
Essay

Conversation with Colleen Rua

17 August 2016

Playwright and producer Samantha Mueller talks to director and educator Colleen Rua about their mutual passion for immersive theatre.

Collaborating with Community in Barrio Stories
Essay

Collaborating with Community in Barrio Stories

3 June 2016

In this second installment, Milta Ortiz discusses her role as the project’s coordinator, and overviews the production process of Barrio Stories.