This is where it's meant to be
Although most live performances take place in some sort of theatre, that’s not the case for site-specific work. These pieces are created to be mounted in a nontraditional space, whether that’s on the Staten Island Ferry, in someone’s living room, or backstage as opposed to on one.
Many site-specific productions also double as environmental theatre since the audience can’t sit idly by — often there aren’t even seats! Instead, viewers follow the action, pursuing the performers from place to place throughout the show.
A true site-specific work doesn’t just use an offbeat locale; it’s crafted specifically for the venue and can’t be done elsewhere easily. For example, This Is Not a Theatre Company mounted a show in an indoor swimming pool. To take that a step further, sometimes a piece is inextricably tied to its specific site. Trusty Sidekick Theater Company’s The 7 1/2 Mysteries of Toulouse McLane was commissioned for the Park Avenue Armory and explored the landmark’s history. And Third Rail Projects, a dance-theatre company that specializes in experiential, site-specific work, recently devised a piece for the bowels of Lincoln Center Theater’s Claire Tow Theater, and the creators admitted that if it were to move to another space, it would need to be extensively rethought.
With enough imagination and access, live performances can take place anywhere. I guess when Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage,” he meant that literally.
— Raven Snook
This video was created by TDF and Kinesis Project Dance Theatre.