A Site to Be Seen…Environmental Theatre Abounds

My theatre company, Thinking Cap Theatre, recently finished a site-specific run of Young Jean Lee’s play, CHURCH, a play about exactly what the title suggests: sermonizing, sinning, surviving.  We took the play’s conceit one step further, and staged it outside under a tent in the parking lot of an old…church.  It was scary and exhilarating and ultimately successful.

A few weeks have passed since CHURCH closed, and I’ve now shifted focus to a “freak show” themed Halloween Event that I’m in the midst of directing and producing.  For fun and inspiration in the past week, I’ve watched “Frankenstein” (1931) twice, “Bride of Frankenstein,” and “Son of Frankenstein.” I had somehow managed to go my entire life without seeing these amazing movies! The closest I’d come to covering this terrain was watching the modern Frankenstein remake with Helena Bonham Carter and Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein”, which is great, but…

For the above reasons, my interest was particularly peaked by an Dance Review in yesterday’s New York Times, entitled “A Burial Ground Doubling as a Stage.” From what I can glean from the article, the event sounds as much like an outdoor performance art installation as “dance” in any conventional sense.  Part of the BEAT Festival (“a showcase of the best in Brooklyn theater, dance, and voice artists”), Crossing Over “is a nighttime tour of Green-Wood Cemetery featuring four site-specific dance performances, each uniquely created by a distinctive Brooklyn-based choreographer to celebrate the now, with history and place as the stunning backdrop.”  According to the NYT review, the cemetary is home to about 600,000 graves! Sounds pretty awesome, even if a little dark, in every literal sense.

Aside from my own recent experience directing CHURCH as a tent revival, I’ve had minimal exposure to or experience with environmental theatre.  How about you?


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