Modern Theatres 1950 to 2020
There are few theater buildings that one can identify that are as completely original and without precedent as is the Arena Stage in Washington DC. When it opened in 1961, it was just the second purpose-built professional theater in the United States in an arena format, or, maybe, in the world. Where does this particilar form has its origin? Traces go back to antiquity but also to buildings such as the Kammerspiele by Max Reinhardt in Berlin. The author, responsible fort he renovation in 2010, describes this extraordinary building and its history.
Purpose-built buildings for theater-in-the-round have a comparatively short history. While the act of gathering around a performer is certainly as old as the human race, the beginnings of arena staging in contemporary western theater can be traced to the late 19C, and its purpose-built structures to not even a century ago. Working backwards from Arena Stage, one can connect the dots from person to person quite directly; back through Margo Jones’ famous Theatre ’47 in Dallas; to the first purpose-built theater for central staging, Glenn Hughes’ Penthouse Theater in Seattle built in 1940 (and still in use); to Gilmor ...
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