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Smashing

Todd and I hang out a lot, which breeds a sort of familiarity that leads to every phrase being shortened as much as possible. For example, if one's laptop batteries were very low, the word "critbatts" might be invoked. So when we found ourselves standing outside of the VIP area of the X Games in LA, and Todd said, "Dude, let's just smash it", I knew exactly what he was talking about: the Gaijin Smash.

The Gaijin Smash is a term used to describe a certain way of operating as a foreigner in Japan. The Japanese are extremely polite and sometimes nervous around foreigners (Gaijin), so as a foreigner you tend to get your way. I think the phrase came about from some guy smashing his way through the subway barriers without paying, and not being stopped. Todd and I mostly used it to ride our hilarious fold-up bikes like maniacs.

Anyway, back to the X-Games. Thanks to my brother and his good friend Chase Hawk, Todd and I had passes to this year's event in LA. But our passes were weird: they were only meant to give us access to the skate park section of the course, because Chase was only riding the park. But we also had friends competing in the street course, so we found ourselves standing outside the entrance to the VIP area of the street course, wanting to watch them.

Lost in Space

On Stephen Shelley

~ Peter Brook, The Empty Space

This was written in 1968 by one of the most brilliant minds of the modern theater. I read this over 20 years ago and it is still as relevant today as it was then, if not more so. A performance space need not be contained within a proscenium, nor does it have to have a grid or a flat playing area. It doesn't have to have wings, dressing rooms or even seats, for that matter.

At times throughout history, and particularly since the 1960s, artists have conceived of very dynamic works of performance outside of these traditional confines. But in the last 15-20 years, work of this nature has dramatically expanded. In this study of the evolving notion of the performance space, I will briefly look at the origins of space and the roots of the traditional space. I will then discuss the impact technology has had, and is having, upon the concept of the performance space and then look at some of the exciting ways contemporary artists are forging new ground outside of the traditional structure.

Throughout these essays, I refer to the "traditional space" often. By “traditional space”, I mean a performance venue which has a stage and a section for a seated audience. This includes the classic proscenium stage (which we’re all used to), the thrust stage and theater in the round. The commonality between all of these stages, and which is important for this article, is that the audience is in a passive/receiving mode, and the action - typically comprised of some combination of actors, singers, dancers, a stage, lights and costumes - is played out upon the stage in full view of the audience. This is what I mean by “traditional space”.

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