How important is performance space to performance, give reference to two performances you have seen.

Essay by allythegr8 November 2004

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How important is performance space to performance?

The question of performance space's importance in conveying meaning and guiding audience response is complicated. First we must define the term "performance space". In a broader sense, it can refer to venue, which in the case of site-specific artists such as Shunt, means performance space is indeed central to the construction and context of meaning. Venues also come with their own sets of conventions and coding, which may alter the reading of a performance. On a smaller scale, it is a defining of areas between audience and performer, therefore having a more proxemics based analysis.

There is a tendency throughout history to establish a norm of performance space. This has meant in general, a designated space solely for performance, with audience spectating from a separate area. How separate an area it is has shaped audience response in a cultural sense. The peaks of audience participation have arisen in times when there is close proximity to the stage, encouraging the spectator to feel like another performer.

The use of performance space can be an unconscious one. Performers, particularly professionals, must devise or present or work within the performance space that have obtained funding for. The audience member is often not conscious of the use of performance space, focusing instead on the overtly designed aspects of the production. This lack of open awareness is, in my opinion a reason why performance space has a profound effect on meaning. By becoming a subconscious signifier, performance space create an ambience through which we filter all of the overt signs and symbols before decoding, its influence pervades all

Within modern performance, venue involvement and performer/audience relationships are gaining wider attention as means to shape meaning and reception, by working with or subverting our cultural norms or coding of...