Sunday, 29 September 2013

My love of site-specific by Assistant Director, Brooke Leifso

Hello! My name is Brooke Leifso and I am the assistant director for the National Elevator Project! I’m an Edmonton based theatre artist, directing and devising theatre for all sorts of spaces and faces.

Most theatre in Edmonton, and indeed everywhere, is created in a specific space designed for it. The audience knows what to expect and are generally familiar with the etiquette required: be at least fifteen minutes early, turn off your cell phone, sit in the dark quiet space giving the actors your full attention and clap at the end. The audience sits separate from the actors, creating a buffer between the action and the spectator. It allows audience to be somewhat removed.

Site-specific theatre is theatre pieces done outside of a conventional theatre space: coffee shops, living rooms, funeral homes, hotel rooms, wherever.  The play or piece or performance speaks to its space, either as a setting of the play or something about that room/space.  It could be literal, looking at the mood that space evokes or what it might mean to our society—as in the case of a Funeral Home. Site-specific theatre asks us all to look at the mundane spaces we occupy totally differently. Every space has the potential to be a venue.

My favourite thing about site-specific work is it’s potential to break the rules, change the rituals and ask audiences to step out of their comfort zone. How does it do these things? By taking audience out of their conventional space, you’re taking them out of their conventions. Audiences can’t sit in an elevator, they have to do what they normally do (stand, wait for the door, etc) and let the action happen. It's up-close and personal.

The National Elevator Project will allow me to work in a space I use on a regular basis and turn it into something magical; and not just one day but everyday. Hopefully elevators will never be the same for us and our audiences!

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