The theatre that was born dead
Some theatres are born dead and no one knows.
There are zombie buildings in our cities, some blind, some deaf, dumb, unsociable, disabled and others are dead.
Visitors like to think that they were unlucky, that they arrived late, that they are old or that the play was bad. Those that work on them are believed to be martyrs, suffering the tradition of their trade that is proudly regretted as being part and parcel of the job. Neighbours, those living in the cities and that have maybe never visited them, know them by sight. Between fanatical love and hate, they are divided, but they were never aware of the permanent drama enclosed within them.
But it’s just that theatres, auditoriums, opera houses and concert halls, cannot be freed of aesthetic trends: what we care about is what goes on inside them, right?
It’s a stable micro-habitat: dead people, grave diggers and professional mourners.
Maybe it is not aware of sharing what is to follow… If the audience is the audience, the technician and the performer are the martyrs and the building is the shop window… why point the finger at who killed the theatre?
I suppose it is because another equation is possible. One where the audience is a lover, the technicians and performers are professionals and the building, like a good wine, is a space that gets better with age even though wrinkles may appear.
So, who was the murderer?
It was the architect, who still roams free, killing off other buildings.
How do we know?
Because we never knew what we could have had. There was a moment when the Theatre could have had super powers but the architect decided to build it with bricks of kryptonite.
As an architect, there was a moment in which I was a homicide waiting to happen: although I was completely capable, nobody told me what I could come to achieve. Now, as a consultant and specialist, I help in the operating theatres every day. Places where only terrorist window dressers and politicians attend. I come across professionals very rarely: where are the heirs of the theatre, those that work miracles on scripts, scores and choreography? Why are they satisfied with shrines and mausoleums when they could demand architecture that is functional, operational, and fitting with our time? We have to make ourselves present.
But, what can we do with the cripples of today?
We must operate!
There’s a cure for almost everything. There are professional surgeons for audio, sound, mechanics, and new technologies. Enough with witch doctors that attack the disease from a subjective view point and cannot prove their experience.
We have a never-ending supply of prostheses: platforms, virtual acoustic systems, lighting wherever we want, video projections… elements that, in my view, make the disadvantaged functional once more.
For those that are still to come, we start with the basics. How far can we see? How far can we hear and transmit? How much do the scenography containers measure? How big is our ego? We start altering our ego and ask for advice.
Performance spaces, as well as the buildings and the mechanics where it is produced, has an underlying modulation, its own metrics. Resorting to innovation or art as a starting point, when so much is already documented, cannot be justified. Rules that have existed since Ancient Greece, are broken by some high-handed parents and teenagers.
The occupants haven’t changed; their relationships remain the same, a sustainable process:
Show > Audience > Individual > Show
The environment? A changeable atmosphere charged with sensations, that’s where the Stage is; that’s where the objective is.