theatre-in-the-round

or arena stage

Theatre in which the stage is located in the centre of the auditorium with the audience seated on all sides.

The form evolved from Greek theatre and was used in medieval times. From the 17th century the proscenium stage limited audience seating to the area directly in front of the stage. In the 1930s, plays at Moscow's Realistic Theatre were produced in the round and the arena stage began to gain favour in Europe and the U.S. Its advantages are its informality and the rapport it creates between audience and actors, but it requires actors to turn constantly to address new sections of the audience.

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also spelled  theater-in-the-round , also called  arena stage,  central stage , or  island stage 

      form of theatrical staging in which the acting area, which may be raised or at floor level, is completely surrounded by the audience. It has been theorized that the informality thus established leads to increased rapport between the audience and the actors.

      Theatre-in-the-round has its roots in rituals such as those performed by the ancient Greeks, which evolved into classical Greek theatre. It was used again in medieval times, especially in England, where it gave way to the open stage of Elizabethan times. During the late 17th century the proscenium stage, which limited audiences to the area directly in front of the stage, came to dominate theatre.

      Beginning about 1930, however, with the productions of Nikolay Pavlovich Okhlopkov (Okhlopkov, Nikolay Pavlovich) at his Realistic Theatre in Moscow, theatre-in-the-round began to gain favour with stage designers who were dissatisfied with the limitations of the proscenium. Advocates of theatre-in-the-round maintain that it offers a wider range of stage size and activity and allows for a larger audience in a given space. In general, such a theatre requires less scenery and scenic space and fewer stage hands and storage rooms and is less expensive to build and maintain than a proscenium-stage theatre. It was widely adopted by experimental theatre troupes in the late 1960s as part of their efforts toward rejecting bourgeois illusionism and exploring various forms of “popular” theatre.

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Universalium. 2010.

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