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A theatre in the round, arena theatre or central staging is a space for theatre in which the audience surrounds the stage. The Glenn Hughes Penthouse Theatre
Theatre
in Seattle, Washington was the first theatre-in-the-round venue built in the United States. It first opened on May 19, 1940 with a production of Spring Dance, a comedy by playwright Philip Barry.[2] The 160-seat theatre is located on the campus of the University of Washington
University of Washington
in Seattle, Washington, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1947, Margo Jones
Margo Jones
established America's first professional theatre-in-the-round company when she opened her Theater '47 in Dallas. The stage design as developed by Margo Jones
Margo Jones
was used by directors in later years for such well-known shows as the Tony award winning musical Fun Home, the original stage production of Man of La Mancha, and all plays staged at the ANTA Washington Square Theatre
Theatre
(demolished in the late 1960s), including Arthur Miller's autobiographical After the Fall. Such theatres had previously existed in colleges, but not in professional spaces for almost two millennia. It is also a popular setup used in contemporary pop concerts in an arena or stadium setting.

Contents

1 Configuration of the stage 2 History of theatre-in-the-round 3 Uses in television and concert halls 4 The politics of the round 5 Arena
Arena
stage archive 6 Theatres in the round

6.1 Australia 6.2 Canada 6.3 France 6.4 Hong Kong 6.5 Malta 6.6 Poland 6.7 United Kingdom

6.7.1 Greater London 6.7.2 Greater Manchester 6.7.3 Elsewhere

6.8 United States

6.8.1 Arizona 6.8.2 California 6.8.3 Colorado 6.8.4 District of Columbia 6.8.5 Florida 6.8.6 Illinois 6.8.7 Indiana 6.8.8 Iowa 6.8.9 Maryland 6.8.10 Massachusetts 6.8.11 Minnesota 6.8.12 Missouri 6.8.13 Nevada 6.8.14 New Jersey 6.8.15 New York 6.8.16 Ohio 6.8.17 Oregon 6.8.18 Pennsylvania 6.8.19 South Carolina 6.8.20 Tennessee 6.8.21 Texas 6.8.22 Utah 6.8.23 Virginia 6.8.24 Washington 6.8.25 Wisconsin

7 In popular culture 8 See also 9 References 10 External links

Configuration of the stage[edit] The stage is always in the centre with the audience arranged on all sides, and is most commonly rectangular, circular, diamond, or triangular. Actors may enter and exit through the audience from different directions or from below the stage. The stage is usually on an even level with or below the audience in a "pit" or "arena" formation. This configuration lends itself to high-energy productions and anything that requires audience participation. It is favoured by producers of classical theatre. it has continued as a creative alternative to the more common proscenium format. In effect, theatre-in-the-round removes the fourth wall and brings the actor into the same space as the audience. This is often problematic for proscenium or end stage trained actors who are taught that they must never turn their backs to the audience, something that is unavoidable in this format. However, it allows for strong and direct engagement with the audience. It is also employed when theatrical performances are presented in non-traditional spaces such as restaurants, public areas such as fairs or festivals, or street theater. Set design is often minimal in order not to obscure the audience's view of the performance. History of theatre-in-the-round[edit] Theatre-in-the-round was common in ancient theatre, particularly that of Greece
Greece
and Rome
Rome
but was not widely explored again until the latter half of the 20th century. In Margo Jones' survey of theatre-in-the-round,[3] the first two sources of central staging in the United States
United States
she identified were the productions by Azubah Latham and Milton Smith at Columbia University dating from 1914, and T. Earl Pardoe's productions at Brigham Young University
Brigham Young University
in 1922. In 1924, Gilmore Brown founded the Fair Oaks Playbox in Pasadena, California, an important early practitioner of central staging in addition to other stage configurations that it pioneered in its advent of flexible staging.[4] As Indicated by Jones,[5] the centrally staged productions of the Fair-oaks Play box were followed approximately eight years later by the work of Glenn Hughes in his Seattle Penthouse. Stephen Joseph was the first to populise the form in the United Kingdom from the US in the 1950s and set up theatres-in-the-round in Newcastle-under-Lyme
Newcastle-under-Lyme
and the Studio Theatre
Theatre
in Scarborough. The current theatre, opened in 1996, is known as the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Joseph was reputed to have once rhetorically asked, "Why must authorities stand with their back to a wall?" His answer was: "So nobody can knife them from behind." Sam Walters set up an impromptu performance space in the upstairs of the Orange Tree pub in Richmond, London
London
in the early 1970s and subsequently moved across the road to a permanent Orange Tree Theatre. In 1972, RG Gregory set up the Word and Action theatre company in Dorset in England to work exclusively in theatre-in-the-round. Gregory sought to create a grammar that would enable actors to maximise the form's potential for connecting with the audience both as individuals and as a collective. All Word and Action productions were performed in normal lighting conditions, without costumes or makeup. Uses in television and concert halls[edit] The innovations of Margo Jones
Margo Jones
were an obvious influence on Albert McCleery when he created his Cameo Theatre
Theatre
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. Elvis Presley's '68 Comeback Special
Special
TV programme was performed with the musicians seated using a raised staging in-the-round format. 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. The politics of the round[edit] The politics of theater-in-the-round were explored most deliberately by RG Gregory. In his view the lit space of a proscenium arch is analogous to the seat of power; the audience adopts the role of passive receivers. In traditional theatre design, maximum care is taken with sight lines in order to ensure that the actor can engage every member of the audience at the same time. However, once removed from the picture frame of the arch, the actors are compelled to turn their back on some members of the audience and so necessarily lose exclusive command of the acting space. All members of the audience can see the actor, but the actor can no longer see all of them. At this point, in order for the play to function, the audience themselves must be allowed to become key conductors of the meaning of the performance. Some, like the writer Mick Fealty, have stressed a close analogy between Gregory's description of the rudimentary dynamics of theater-in-the-round with the network effect of Internet-based communication in comparison to traditional broadcast and marketing channels. Arena
Arena
stage archive[edit] George Mason University
George Mason University
in Fairfax, Virginia
Fairfax, Virginia
is home to the largest arena stage archive and contains material from the theatre'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 (7.4 m3) or 440 feet (130 m) linear and is housed in the Fenwick Library. Theatres in the round[edit] Australia[edit]

La Boite Theatre
Theatre
Building, Brisbane
Brisbane
(no longer used as a theatre)[6] Roundhouse Theatre, Brisbane
Brisbane
(replacing the La Boite Theatre Building)[7]

Canada[edit]

Globe Theatre, Regina, Saskatchewan Seton Auditorium, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia

France[edit]

L'Européen, Paris[8] Théâtre en Rond, Sassenage
Sassenage
and Fresnes

Hong Kong[edit]

Theater in the Wild, Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Disneyland, Lantau Island

Malta[edit]

Saint James Cavalier Theatre, Valletta

Poland[edit]

Theater Scena STU, Kraków

United Kingdom[edit] Greater London[edit]

Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond Pembroke Theatre, Croydon
Croydon
(closed 1962)

Greater Manchester[edit]

Octagon Theatre, Bolton Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

Elsewhere[edit]

Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham The Castle Theatre, Wellingborough
The Castle Theatre, Wellingborough
(can be in the round or normal theatre format) New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme The Round, Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne
(closed 2008) Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough The Dukes Theatre, Lancaster Liverpool
Liverpool
Everyman Theatre, Liverpool Pyramid Theatre, Leeds
Leeds
University Union, Leeds
Leeds
(formerly Raven Theatre)

United States[edit] Arizona[edit]

NAU Theatre, Flagstaff, Arizona Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, Arizona Hale Centre Theatre, Gilbert, Arizona[9] Theater Works, Peoria, Arizona
Peoria, Arizona
[1]

California[edit]

Wells Fargo Pavilion, Sacramento, California
Sacramento, California
(Home of California Musical Theatre's Music Circus[10]) The Rock Forum, Anaheim, California Glendale Centre Theatre, Glendale, California
Glendale, California
[2] Golden Bough Playhouse, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California Marian Theatre, Santa Maria, California [3] Solvang Festival Theater, Solvang, California Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, California

Cassius Carter Centre Stage (demolished 2008) Cheryl and Harvey White Theatre

Circle Star Theater, San Carlos, California
San Carlos, California
(torn down for office buildings) Riverside Community Players, Riverside, California
Riverside, California
(built in 1953) Valley Music Theater, Los Angeles, California (built 1963, demolished 2007) Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, Disneyland, Anaheim, California

Colorado[edit]

The Space Theatre, Denver, Colorado

District of Columbia[edit]

Arena
Arena
Stage, Washington, D.C.

Florida[edit]

Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida Stitch's Great Escape!, Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida Harambe Theater, Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida

Illinois[edit]

Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire, Illinois
Lincolnshire, Illinois
[4] Mill Run Playhouse, Niles, Illinois
Niles, Illinois
(demolished 1984) Richmond Hill Theatre, Geneseo, Illinois
Geneseo, Illinois
[5] Cornstock Theatre, Peoria, Illinois
Peoria, Illinois
[6]

Indiana[edit]

Wagon Wheel Theatre, Warsaw, Indiana[11]

Iowa[edit]

Flanagan Studio Theater, Grinnell, Iowa
Grinnell, Iowa
[12]

Maryland[edit]

Colonial Players, Annapolis, Maryland Shady Grove Music Fair, Gaithersburg, Maryland
Maryland
(Demolished) Painters Mill Music Fair, Owings Mills, Maryland
Maryland
(Demolished 1991)

Massachusetts[edit]

North Shore Music Theatre, Beverly, Massachusetts
Beverly, Massachusetts
[7] Cape Cod Melody Tent, Hyannis, Massachusetts[13] South Shore Music Circus, Cohasset, Massachusetts[14] The Little Theatre, Newton Balch Arena
Arena
Theater, Medford, Massachusetts
Medford, Massachusetts
[15]

Minnesota[edit]

Theatre
Theatre
in the Round Players, Minneapolis, Minnesota[16] Rarig Center
Rarig Center
Arena, Minneapolis, Minnesota Arena
Arena
Theater, Northfield, Minnesota
Northfield, Minnesota
(Built 1967, mothballed 2011)

Missouri[edit]

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City, Missouri

Nevada[edit]

Le Rêve Theater inside Wynn Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada LOVE Theatre
Theatre
inside The Mirage, Las Vegas, Nevada

New Jersey[edit]

Seton Hall Theatre
Theatre
in the Round, South Orange, New Jersey[17]

New York[edit]

Circle Repertory Company, New York City, New York The Irish Classical Theatre
Theatre
in Buffalo, New York NYCB Theatre
Theatre
at Westbury, Westbury, New York Circle in the Square Theatre
Theatre
in New York City, New York (Can also be configured as a Thrust Stage)

Ohio[edit]

Front Row Theater Columbus, Ohio Porthouse Theatre, Kent, Ohio

Oregon[edit]

The New Theater, Ashland, Oregon (one of the theaters used for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival)

Pennsylvania[edit]

F. Otto Haas Stage, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Valley Forge Music Fair, Devon, Pennsylvania
Devon, Pennsylvania
(Demolished 1997)

South Carolina[edit]

Longstreet Theatre, Columbia, South Carolina

Tennessee[edit]

Ula Love Doughty Carousel Theatre, Knoxville, Tennessee

Texas[edit]

Plaza Theatre
Theatre
Company, Cleburne, Texas[18] Artisan Center Theater, Hurst[19] Whisenhunt Stage, Austin, Texas Casa Mañana, Fort Worth, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
(converted to thrust stage in 2003) Theatre
Theatre
'47, Dallas, Texas Mary Moody Northen Theatre, Austin, Texas Arena
Arena
Theater, Houston, Texas

Utah[edit]

Hale Centre Theatre, Sandy, Utah Hale Center Theater, Orem, Utah

Virginia[edit]

The Barksdale Theater in Richmond, Virginia

Washington[edit]

Glenn Hughes Penthouse Theatre, Seattle, Washington ACT Theatre, Seattle, Washington

Wisconsin[edit]

Fireside Dinner Theater, Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin

In popular culture[edit]

In the novel The Prestige
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. The English progressive rock band Yes were the first rock-era group to perform "in the round" during their 1978-79 Tormato tour. The band also performed using a round, rotating stage during portions of their Drama and Union tours in 1980 and 1991, respectively. British rock band Def Leppard
Def Leppard
played "in the round" for several tours in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Their 1989 live VHS
VHS
release was entitled Live: In the Round, in Your Face. In order to give a show similar to a three ring circus, American singer Britney Spears
Britney Spears
used an in-the-round setting for her 2009 The Circus Starring Britney Spears
Britney Spears
tour. Stand-up comedians have performed specials "in the round," such as Dane Cook: Vicious Circle and Louis C.K.'s Oh My God. The Spice Girls
The Spice Girls
used a circular stage in the round setting for their Christmas in Spiceworld
Christmas in Spiceworld
tour in 1999. U2's 360° Tour uses a very large circular stage structure. The Dixie Chicks' Top of the World Tour
Top of the World Tour
used a circular stage, except in venues where it was an end stage. Metallica
Metallica
have been known to use a rectangular, diamond or oval shaped stage that is placed in the center of the arena beginning with their 1991 Wherever We May Roam Tour. On different tours, they have also included areas within the stage, called "the snake pit", where audience members can watch the show. Most recently, their 2012 European Black Album Tour used this format.[20] In a Curb Your Enthusiasm
Curb Your Enthusiasm
season finale, Larry David, while playing The Producers character Max Bialystock, said he invented "theater in the square".

See also[edit]

Arena The Castle of Perseverance Thrust stage

References[edit]

^ "The Theatre
Theatre
Module". Royal Exchange Theater. Retrieved 31 October 2012.  ^ Tate, Cassandra. 200255. "Curtain rises on Seattle's new Penthouse Theatre
Theatre
on May 16, 1947." Archived August 8, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. ^ Jones, Margo. 1951. Theatre-in-the-Round. Rinehard & Company, Inc.; Sec. Pr. edition ^ Altenberg, Roger. 1964. A Historical Study of Gilmore Brown's Fair-oaks Play box: 1924-1927 Archived March 27, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. ^ Jones, Margo. 1951. Theatre-in-the-Round, p. 38 ^ "La Boite Theatre
Theatre
(entry 602171)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 13 April 2015.  ^ "Roundhouse Theatre". Queensland University of Technology. Retrieved 5 January 2015.  ^ "Le Théâtre en Rond". Théatre en rond. Retrieved 20 June 2014.  ^ Hale Centre Theatre
Theatre
in Arizona Archived June 20, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.. Accessed 2014-06-20 ^ California Musical Theatre
Theatre
Archived October 28, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. at The Wells Fargo Pavilion ^ "Welcome to the Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts". Retrieved 13 April 2015.  ^ "Facilities". Smith College. Retrieved 13 April 2015.  ^ Cape Cod Melody Tent
Cape Cod Melody Tent
Archived February 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. official web site ^ South Shore Music Circus Archived November 29, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. official web site ^ "Balch Arena
Arena
Theater at Tufts University". Retrieved 13 April 2015.  ^ Theatre
Theatre
in the Round Archived October 18, 2016, at the Wayback Machine., Minneapolis, official web site ^ "About Seton Hall Theatre". Seton Hall University. Retrieved 13 April 2015.  ^ Plaza Theatre
Theatre
Company Archived April 14, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. official web site ^ Artisan Center Theatre
Theatre
Archived October 16, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. official web site ^ "News The Snake Pit Returns!!". Metallica.com. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 

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