When I was growing up the biggest complaint my Art Education teachers had with my artwork, whether painting or drawing, was that I never used the entire page. For whatever reason I would only draw in one tiny area, leaving a sea of white space around it. As I got older, however, I started using all of the creative space available on the page, and eventually even started going off of it. And that’s when things got interesting.
With performing arts, the concept isn’t all too different. Traditionally performers try to use all of the creative space on the stage. But what happens when they look beyond it?
I’ve recently started attending shows at Actors Theater, and I’m continually blown away at how often they use untraditional space to help tell their stories. As a part of the audience, I tend to think they’re limited to what I can see, but that rarely seems to be the case.
Take for example their seasonal performance of A Christmas Carol. Each of the ghosts, past, present and future, entered the stage in an entirely different manner. The Ghost of Christmas Past, engulfed in smoke, entered through a trapdoor in the middle of the stage, while the Ghost of Christmas Present entered from the ceiling, performing an aerial silks routine similar to something from Cirque du Soleil. It was one of the most surprising entrances I’ve ever seen, and it added so much to the overall experience.
In their most recent show, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, Actors Theater once again got the most they could from their creative space. They used not only trapdoors, but also aisle ways to offer a complete experience. They even enlisted audience participation for several parts of the performance, transforming paying audience members into able-bodied cast members. But the Pièce de résistance was the mid-performance set change when an entirely new set was lowered onto the stage without interrupting the flow.
Through NeXt! and working with Actors Theater I’ve been fortune enough to fully understand that the term “creative space” is only limited to your imagination. Of course there are always limitations, but the artists here in Louisville are some of the most creative and forward thinking in the world; pushing the limits and bringing us new experiences.