Site – Specific Theatre, Breaking the Conventions


Site-specific theatre is theatrical production of plays, performances or happenings,  designed to be performed at a specially adapted location, without intention for  theatrical purposes as a converted building, shops, cafes, hotels, or in a buildings  renovated for new functions.  The plays sometimes can be performed in an open space as a backyard, square, street, (close with street theatre) or in a forest or meadow. Usually it means it must been played in an unconventional theatre space, outside a traditional theatre space, but the term can be used for similar theatrical forms.

Site-specific theatre is more interactive than conventional theatre, because there is not a fourth wall, space is open, actors can make close connection with the public, and audience is part of the performance. Sometimes it have possibility for audience to move, or walk around, because the play is mobile and it is close to the term promenade theatre, when the action happening among audience and they can follow the performers around the performance space.

Site-specific theatre is close with the environmental theatre too, a new theatrical movement at the 60 s. when production is placed in an environment similar to the one in the play.

It is very easy   to mixed the terms of various form of theatres, and  the term site –specific, can be used  for various plays or performances  which is not on conventional stage or building, as the theatres we already mentioned, or with “site-generic,” plays  staged in any physically similar venue, or a black box theater.

Looking forward in to the history, from first Greek tragedies, or Shakespeare plays, or comedia de arte,   theatre plays were performed on the streets, or on the various non-theatrical buildings… or, that mean that theatre was everywhere, not just in theatre stages. This term a term began to be used by certain theatre groups, in early 80s, to describe their own performance relationship to the local environment, like Brith Gof.

Brith Gof Theatre Company

Brith Gof Theatre Company

This term in the late 90s was still used in newspapers, with very meaning, and its original meaning becomes unclear and unspecific.  Later, some of the site specific theatres “cross the line” and became mainstream.

The Passion, National Theatre Wales and Wildworks

The Passion, National Theatre Wales and Wildworks

The term “site-specific theatre” helps to the different theatrical forms that break the conventions of and with the audience. Lot of different shows, performances and happenings, are subsumed under the term “site-specific”, but more information is needed to know are they, or not, site-specific.