A Short History of Western Performance Space

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This innovative book provides a historical account of performance space within the theatrical traditions of western Europe. David Wiles takes a broad-based view of theatrical activity as something that occurs in churches, streets, pubs and galleries as much as in buildings explicitly designed to be 'theatres'. He traces a diverse set of continuities from Greece and Rome to the present, including many areas that do not figure in standard accounts of theatre history. Drawing on the cultural geography of Henri Lefebvre, the book identifies theatrical performances as spatial practices characteristic of particular social structures. It is not a history of contexts for dramatic literature, but the history of an activity rooted in bodies and environments. Wiles uses this historical material to address a pressing concern of the present: is theatre better performed in modern architect-designed, apparently neutral empty spaces, or characterful 'found' spaces?