Opening tonight, October 6th, MadLab presents Until He Wasn't by Patrick McLaughlin. And we're doing it IN THE ROUND.
what does that mean, exactly?
Theatre-in-the-round (sometimes called arena seating) is exactly what it sounds like: a performance staged so that the audience completely surrounds the stage, either in a circle, square, or similar setup. The stage is centralized, and the audience can see the actors and the action from all angles. This means that set pieces are small or nonexistent, as they would block sight lines. The lack of set pieces means that most performances in this setup are simplistically realized, relying on the actors and the lighting to provide all visual stimulation.
where'd it come from?
This style of staging was hugely popular in ancient Greek and Roman performances, but lost prominence during the late 17th century, as most theatres adopted the proscenium-style setup most companies use today (including MadLab). In-the-round began to make a comeback in the late 1930's around the world, and really gained popularity in the United States in the 1960's with experimental theatre troupes. The first theatre-in-the-round in the US was built in Seattle in 1940, and the largest in the world seats over 700 audience members.
A proscenium stage looks like this
why do people use theatre-in-the-round now?
“Theatre-in-the-round demands fast action, movement and sincere performances from the actors. It is exciting and real. It is theatre in 3D.” - Stephen Joseph
Theatre in-the-round provides an intimate and immersive experience for the audience. The nature of the stage places most audience members closer to the actors than they would be with a typical proscenium stage, and audience members can also see each other across the action of the stage. Everyone in the theatre is interacting with each other, on some level, and the audience becomes a part of the action. The vast differences between points of view of the audience in various parts of the theatre means that every person's experience is individual, to some extent. This dichotomy of being an active participant in the performance and yet totally alone in one's experience of it makes these types of stages and performances unique and exhilarating.