What is your opinion and thoughts on the future of Stage Design in America?

My friend John interviewed me for a paper he’s writing on the future of the theatre. One of the questions he asked was: What is your opinion and thoughts on the future of Stage Design in America? When you close your eyes and read newspapers or talk to other peers and professors or professionals, what can you envision the future stage will probably look like?

Here’s my response:

A growing rift between 1) very high-production plays 2) very loose casual any-space plays. There will be less high-production plays, but they will become more elaborate. And there will be more grassroots plays.

As a visual artist who creates artwork in public spaces, I find the immediacy and accessibility to the public much more interesting than a polished gallery space. There will still be the place for traditional theatre. But we’ll see more types of shows where the play is staged in front of a casual standing audience. Much like a rock show at a bar. Or a performance in a garage.

It’s interesting to see how the Hubbard Street Dance theatre now does performances in the Art Institute galleries interpreting specific pieces of artwork. Crowds gather to watch. Great intrigue is sparked. These non-traditional spaces are engaging. Audiences are free to walk around.

Performances like Fruza Bruta where the audience stands under the peformers will gain attraction. Innovative ways of working with not only materials buy also the space. It’s interesting to note how in Fruza Bruta, the audience stands Auditorium Theatre’s stage. Thus making the audience just as much peformers as the dancers.

In our age of technology, people are craving direct human contact. While the theatre traditionally provides human contact in concept, there is still a rift between the actors on stage and the audience in the seats. People want to move around. To interact. To engage. Audiences don’t want to only consume. They want to have a feeling of ownership. Use of cell phones should be encouraged. People want to capture the moment. Their cell phones are part of their brains. People want to share. People want to interact. We should be enabling our audiences to post videos, audio, photos, and tweets.

We currently don’t allow this level of interaction and reposting because of fear. (see next question)

Tomorrow I’ll post the next question.

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