Designing for Live Performance: Small Planet & Empty Space

September 10, 2018 Designing for Live Performance

Elinor Fuchs’ Visit to a Small Planet lays out clear and understandable methods for both reading and interpreting a play, using a series of questions. Rather than make quick judgements about the play, these questions are intended to help you to delve deeper into all aspects of the play. 

Curious to see if it would help further my understanding of previous plays, I decided to re-read a play that I’d been assigned this summer.  Even with my preconceived notions of the world of the play, I found that it did give me further insight.  Looking forward, I can also see how these guidelines can help in the world-building I do in rpgs.  Of the two readings assigned for the week, I found Small Planet to be the one that I gained the most insight from. 

Peter Brook’s The Empty Space, describes the nature and purpose of the theater.  The Deadly Theater, is defined as theater that is dull or un-engaging, and often considered to be bad, most often linked to commercial theater.  It seems to me, that Brook is dismissive of theater that is safe, predictable, or designed for mass consumption, rather than theater that is designed to make the audience think, or be uncomfortable.

While I do agree that theater should be engaging, make the audience think, and inspire more art, I also understand that marketing is a part of the business, and at the end of the day, to be successful, theater has to connect with the audience.  I do believe it is possible to have theater that is engaging and also makes the audience think.  At the same time, I firmly believe that theater is a place for everyone, and that its important to encourage, rather than diminish it, simply because its not what one might consider thought provoking.