Theatre in the round

Theatre in the round

Theatre-in-the-round or arena theatre is any theatre space in which the audience surrounds the stage area. In 1947, Margo Jones established America's first professional theatre-in-the-round company when she opened her Theatre ’47 in Dallas.

As outlined by Margo Jones, her theatre-in-the-round concept requires no stage curtain, little scenery and allows the audience to sit on three sides of the stage. That stage design was used by directors in later years for such well-known shows as the original stage production of "Man of La Mancha" and all plays staged at the ANTA Washington Square Theatre (demolished in the late 1960s), including Arthur Miller's autobiographical "After the Fall". Such theaters had previously existed in colleges but not in professional spaces.

The stage itself in this arrangement is typically round, diamond, or triangular, with actors entering and exiting through the audience from different directions or from below the stage. Such a space is usually configured with the stage on an even level with or lowered below the audience in a "pit" or "arena" formation. This configuration lends itself to high-energy productions, and is especially favored by producers of classical theatre. Theatre-in-the-round was common in ancient theatre, particularly that of Greece and Rome but was not widely explored again until the latter half of the 20th Century; it has continued as a creative alternative to the more common Proscenium format.

Theatre-in-the-round presents problems since actors at all times have their back facing some members of the audience. However, it also allows for interesting and realistic staging. The configuration is also commonly employed when theatrical performances are presented in non-traditional spaces such as restaurants, public areas such as fairs or festivals, or street theatre. Special consideration needs to be taken in regard to the set design, so as not to obscure any audience member's view of the performance.

The innovations of Margo Jones were an obvious influence on Albert McCleery when he created his "Cameo Theater" for television in 1950. Continuing until 1955, McCleery offered dramas seen against pure black backgrounds instead of walls of a set. This enabled cameras in the darkness to pick up shots from any position.

When an arena staging was conceived for the progressive-rock group Yes by their tour manager Jim Halley in the mid-1970s, it prompted a redesign of rock concerts and venue seating arrangements.

George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia is home to the largest Arena Stage Archive and contains material from the theater's 50 year history. Included in the collection are photographs, production notebooks, scrapbooks, playbills, oral histories and handwritten correspondence. According to their website, the total volume is 260 cubic feet or 440 linear feet and is housed in the Fenwick Library.

Theatres in the round

*United Kingdom
**The Round, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
**New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
**Octagon Theatre, Bolton
**Pembroke Theatre (no longer exists) Croydon
**Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
**Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
**The Castle Theatre ( can be in the round or normal theatre format )
**Orange Tree Theatre, London
**Cockpit Theatre, London

*United States
**Heritage Forum, Anaheim, California []
**Margo Jones' Theatre '47
**Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.
**Artisan Center Theatre, Hurst Texas []
**Cape Cod Melody Tent, Hyannis, Massachusetts []
**Colonial Players, Annapolis,Maryland
**South Shore Music Circus, Cohasset, Massachusetts []
**Cassius Carter Centre Stage, Old_Globe_Theatre, San Diego, CA(demolished 2008)
**Northern Arizona University
**Circle Rep, New York City
**The Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, Denver, CO
**Ula Love Doughty Carousel Theatre, Knoxville, Tennessee
**Glenn Hughes Penthouse Theatre, Seattle, Washington
**The Wells Fargo Pavilion, Sacramento, California, home of California Musical Theatre's Music Circus []
**North Shore Music Theatre, Beverly, Massachusetts []
**The Barksdale Theater in Richmond, Virginia
**The Irish Classical Theatre in Buffalo, New York
**Longstreet Theatre at the University of South Carolina
**TITR at Seton Hall University []
**Theatre in the Round in Minneapolis, Minnesota []
**Glendale Centre Theatre, Glendale, California []
**Marian Theatre, Santa Maria, California []
**Solvang Festival Theater, Solvang, California []
**Hale Centre Theatre, West Valley City, Utah and Gilbert, Arizona [] []
**Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
**The Little Theatre, Newton North High School
**Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire, Illinois []
**The New Theater, Ashland, Oregon; one of the theaters used for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
**The Capital One Bank Theatre at Westbury, Westbury, New York
**Le Rêve Theater in the Wynn Las Vegas casino resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.
**LOVE in Las Vegas.
**Circle Star Theater, San Carlos, California (torn down for office buildings)
**ACT Theatre, Seattle, Washington
**Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, Arizona
**Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, California (Was temporarily in the round for the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards.)
**Theatre in the Round Players, Minneapolis, Minnesota []
**F. Otto Haas, the mainstage theater of the Arden Theatre Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

**Globe Theatre, Regina
**Medevial Times, Toronto

In popular culture

*The New Order song "Chemical" contains the lyric "your every scene is in the round"
*In the Broadway musical "The Producers", Broadway producer Max Bialystock claims to have invented a variant called "Theatre in the square", where "Nobody" had a good seat!"
*In the novel The Prestige by Christopher Priest, the magician Rupert Angier courts controversy by writing that stage magic should be performed "in the round" rather than in theatres with a proscenium arch.
*Rock group Metallica have employed 'in the round' staging for their arena shows since the early 1990's.

ee also

*"The Castle of Perseverance"
*Thrust stage

External links

*"Crawdaddy!" article by sound engineer Dinky Dawson on [ staging rock bands in-the-round]
* [ California Musical Theatre]
* [ New Vic Theatre]
* [ North Fork Theater at Westbury (formerly Westbury Music Fair)]
* [ Cockpit Theatre]
* [ Le Rêve Seating Chart]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • theatre-in-the-round — theatre in the roundˈ noun (pl theatres in the roundˈ) 1. A theatre with a central stage and the audience on all sides 2. The style of staging plays in such a theatre • • • Main Entry: ↑theatre * * * ˌtheatre in the ˈround 7 [theatre in the… …   Useful english dictionary

  • theatre-in-the-round — n [U] the performance of a play on a central stage with the people watching sitting in a circle around it …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • theatre-in-the-round — or arena stage Theatre in which the stage is located in the centre of the auditorium with the audience seated on all sides. The form evolved from Greek theatre and was used in medieval times. From the 17th century the proscenium stage limited… …   Universalium

  • theatre in the round — noun a theatre with seats arranged round a central stage …   Australian English dictionary

  • theatre-in-the-round — noun a form of theatrical presentation in which the audience is seated in a circle or near circle around the stage …   English new terms dictionary

  • theatre-in-the-round — noun (U) the performance of a play on a central stage with the people watching sitting in a circle around it …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • The Round — is a theatre in the round in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. [ [ round feature.shtml BBC Tyne Entertainment Theatre in The Round ] ] It specialises in theatre for children and young people. The… …   Wikipedia

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