I first remember noticing this difference, between the traditional, gilt and velvet, ice-creams-at-the-interval, audience experience and something more temporary and exciting, when the RSC brought their mobile theatre tour to my local leisure centre in 1996. I was taken there on a school trip to see Troilus and Cressida and marvelled not only at the skill of the performers and the immediacy that the production found within such a difficult play, but also at the fact that Cressida was breaking Troilus’s heart, and Achilles removing Hector’s, in the same room where I had embarrassed myself during badminton lessons a few days earlier. There was a swagger, a bravado, in the gesture. It was only through this experience that I learned that theatre is not about a building with chandeliers and cherubim, but about the collective act of imagination that turns an echoing sportshall into the plains outside Troy.
The National Theatre goes pop-up | Ben Power | Stage | guardian.co.uk
“In recent years, of course, there has been an explosion in site-specific theatre, with the enormous success of Shunt and Punchdrunk spearheading a wave of shows in arches, tower blocks, car parks, dockyards, tunnels and factories. There’s a certain energy that comes from knowing that a space that was built and used as something else is being inhabited by a particular performance. That both performers and audience are interlopers or invaders in someone else’s space. The idea that the space will revert to another use after the final show, or be transformed again into who-knows-what, only heightens the sense of the transient, the fleeting, which is at the heart of all live art.”