Project Meeting 1

Atmospheric Theatre Meeting, 5th-7th April 2019

Project Meeting 1 (Saturday)

From Friday 5th to Sunday 7th April 2019, a group of 26 theatre practitioners and academic researchers gathered to explore questions of atmosphere, open-air theatre, and the environment. We were joined by experts from across these sectors, who generously shared their own experiences of and expertise in analysing eco-dramatic and environmental concepts, histories, and texts; establishing open-air performance networks; and performing or directing productions in outdoor or shared-light contexts. These findings will ground our project's ongoing investigation into how the experience of attending an open-air theatre performance might make playgoers more aware of or responsive to their environment - especially the air around them.

We began our conversation on Friday in the beautiful surroundings of the Minack Theatre, Cornwall's world-famous open-air theatre. There, we considered the challenges and opportunities of performing in an outdoor setting, moving through and around the stage and audience area of this stunning venue. I learned to appreciate more vividly the ways in which the noises, sights, and even scents of this coastal setting might interact with those of the performance, and began to think about moments at which the air becomes perceptible.

On Saturday morning, we met at the University of Exeter's Penryn campus in Cornwall. For the next day and a half, we collectively discussed the rich, shifting relationships between atmosphere and audience/actor experience; open-air theatre and the environment; theatre production, community, and sustainability; and the ways in which the unexpected becomes a gift and an opportunity in outdoor performance. Moving between the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, nineteenth-century practice, and contemporary improvised work, we discovered how these different modes might speak to one another, and to our present-day awareness of the air, the environment, and the landscape around us - whether as actors, or as audience.

As the meeting drew to a close, we discussed how we would continue these conversations, and reflected on the possible implications for our own practice and research. We left with the question that this project will go on to explore hovering in our minds:

"How do we make the air perceptible in performance, in ways that might increase an audience's awareness of air quality and aerial resource?"

Chloe Preedy, University of Exeter


Sue Best, Shakespeare Link; Willow Globe

Todd Borlik, University of Huddersfield

Philip Bowen, Shakespeare Link; Willow Globe

John Brolly, Minack Theatre

Zoë Curnow, Minack Theatre

Tom Dixon, The HandleBards

Emma Gersch, Moving Stories

Sue Hill, WildWorks

Emma Hogg, WildWorks

Zoë Hudson, The Pantaloons

Tim Ingold, University of Aberdeen

Josh Lucas, Running Dog Theatre

Angus MacKechnie, OutdoorArtsUK

Randall Martin, University of New Brunswick

Paul Moss, The HandleBards

Kate Newey, University of Exeter

Evelyn O'Malley, University of Exeter

Bryony Onciul, University of Exeter

Chloe Preedy, University of Exeter

Stephen Purcell, The Pantaloons; University of Warwick

Kama Roberts, Shakespeare Link; Willow Globe

Julie Sanders, Newcastle University

John Tissue, Cherokee Historical Association; Institute of Outdoor Theatre

Naya Tsentourou, University of Exeter

Nicola Whyte, University of Exeter

Penelope Woods, Queen Mary, University of London

This meeting was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

AHRC logo Cherokee Historical Association logo The HandleBards Minack Theatre logo Newcastle University Outdoor Arts UK logo The Pantaloons logoRunning Dog Theatre logo University of Exeter logo University of Huddersfield logo University of New Brunswick Willow Globe logo