Place

Place

There was a time when theatre space and city space were one, when playgoers could watch a play, look around, and see the place in which they lived. An ancient Athenian could peer down into the sacred grove of Dionysus; a medieval person would spy market, church, or town all around them; Elizabethan Londoners knew they lived in the place rendered in the theatre’s architecture. Indeed, audiences knew where they were. They were here, with all of the connotations of what that might mean: the world of the play was always the world of the place – the relationship between the two was inseparable.

The Medieval Theatre used this idea of place to arrange player and playgoer. The Platea or “Place” might be an open place for spectators to stand or sit close to a wagon or mansion, or it might be an open space where performers and spectators could mix and mingle. Whichever the case, Place was central. The Place involved the worlds of audience and player, watcher and the watched, the player and the play, and the place of the play and that of city, town, or square. It was atmosphere, reality, and container. In Raymond Williams’ understanding of the staging of Everyman, Everyman enters the action from the Platea – from the world of city, town, and individual – and exits the Places of this world for other realities of the next.

More recently, for all sorts of reasons, the energies of Place have drained from the theatre experience. Audiences sit in theatres, and engage the action from a personal psychoemotional experience, not from the energies and atmospheres of Place.

What would it mean to give Place, and the energies of Place, back to a play?

A central motivating purpose of Cymbeline in the Anthropocene is this very question. What would it mean to give Place back to Play, and to engage a play from that intersection?

These productions will all use Place as their starting point, their Genesis and Generator, where the ecological and environmental dimensions of place inspire the production and our audiences’ reception of it.

This project involves seven discrete and particular Places, which will result in seven radically different approaches to the material, as well as radically different Places to which the productions will traffic.

The Places of the Play are the following:

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

The Wildlife Sanctuary offers 'a unique outdoor laboratory for La Trobe University, that provides transformative experiences for its community.'

Tbilisi, Georgia

Karaganda, Kazakhstan

Capital of miners, straddling the banks of the Bukpa River in the Saryarka steppe of central Asia.   

Cambria, Wales, UK

The Upper Wye valley. Red Kites, Sheep, Shakespeare at the Willow Globe/Glôb Byw: spirit and space in a living, growing theatre. 

Wellington, Ontario, Canada

Montana, USA

Under the Big Skies, from Lush Mountains to Mythical Buttes.

Yosemite, California, USA

"The magnitudes of the rocks and trees and streams are so delicately harmonized, they are mostly hidden.” – John Muir

Santa Barbara, California, USA

Between the Mountains and the Sea. At the Edge of a Continent.