Theatre Design & Technology - Oct 1971 - 20
Mr. McClintock: I would love it.
Comment: Our traffic makes our streets not
really suitable for romantic conceptions.
And while I am aware of the sail sculptures
that go into the street occasionally, I think
it is patronizing to be so concerned with
letting people help us pull ropes and carry
platforms. I would like to see a space like
this space or maybe slightly smaller put up
in a park. And not just one, but countless
spaces like this. People would use them
freely to create theatre. This would be
better than a theatre that rolls in and closes
up a traffic artery on occasion.
Some say if a group has a will it will
find some interesting little nook to perform
in. I don't think in reality that can always
happen. But if this city were to say, "We
are going to make 100 new little inside
theatres like the Performing Garage, with
rudimentary lighting and fulfilling all the
legal codes," 100 groups would fill them. I
think something of the same would happen
to fill outside amphitheatres. The muscle is
where the money is.
Miss Bacon: The band shell is jammed from
May to October, absolutely overloaded.
Comment: May I make a point? When you
speak of traffic, you are speaking of Manhattan. There are four other boroughs that
don't have the same traffic problem, not to
mention other cities. Noise is a tremendous
problem, but not an architectural problem. It
is a technical performing problem. Street
theatre is the circus coming into town. You
go in with flags and you have theatre.
Comment: I would like to try to bring us
back to the least common denominator because we are jumping around. First of all,
we are reinventing the wheel. The pageant
of the Medieval period is what we are talki ng about.
Today we have an interesting problem in
audience psychology that we are trying desparately, those of us in the theatre, to find
out the reason for. For one thing we have
formalized our theatre almost out of existence. There are huge potential audiences
that will not go to the theatre just because
they will not put on a coat and tie or pay
$10. So the theatre being the way it is,
we go and look for that audience. Some
people are puzzled that you can get 60,000
people in Sheep Meadow for a concert
when they could pay $ 5 or $ 10 and go to
Philharmonic Hall, sit in nice comfortable
surroundings, have a drink, and listen in
the best possible acoustical conditions.
But why do people get together as at
Woodstock? We don't know the answer.
Psychologists are trying to figure this out,
but all we know is that street theatre is trying to go out to the audi ence rather than
make the audience come to it. There is a
certain magic that exists when the group
goes out to the street, and people become
But what we seem to be doing is formalizing this concept into a rigid mechanical structure of a 40-foot trailer-truck where
you push buttons and the light turns on.
Mrs. Cortesi: I don't think we are trying to
formalize that here.
that we had 20 people on the top juggling
because it was the only place left-so that
was their stage. We said, "If that is a natural stage, we will extend it so it will
work." So Jerry has exactly the same idea,
except the stage is built on a bus.
Comment: I think this may be the direction
we are going. The next step would be,
"Why have the audience standing all the
time?" We will give them some chairs.
And, then, "It might rain tonight, so we
will put a canvas over the roof."
You have to be sensitive to what is
there. I think there are lots of nice places
Mrs. Cortesi: I would like to introduce Virginia Kahn of the Parks Department.
Comment: As architects, the only way we
can do any good is to be able to very subtly produce the environments in which the
type of interaction we have been talking
about takes place. We cannot sit around
grooving on people.
Miss Kahn: I just wanted to throw out a
space possibility to the architects-to anybody in this city-that is particularly appropriate for theatre. Underneath city bridges
there are most beautiful theatre spaces that
have never been used. What can be done?
It is a really beautiful natural space.
Mr. Toan: These spaces are sensational, but
they are very noisy.
Miss Kahn: One of the enchanting performances I saw last summer was in the
park by Gracie Mansion. There is an overpass in this park, and the theatre group
dropped a canvas from the top of the overpass. It didn't fill the whole space; it was
just enough to indicate. The actors moved
in front of it and behind it. Everybody could
see behind the stage, but the canvas was a
division. It was beautiful, and the group
used all of the environment, around them.
This environment became a stage and peopl e
Mr. Duffy: Your reactions are interesting. I
never got an answer to my question. I came
here tonight because Kari n called me and
she had a very interesting idea. I am afraid
I was very hostile to her. I asked, "How
can you do this, you don't know who is
going to be here? If you knew which people
were going to be here you would know how
to deal with them."
I have directed two plays in the Performing Garage and I know a little bit about
what works in here. When I came in tonight, I went immediately to one of my favorite spots. That was instantly taken as a
hostile act, because I wasn't willing to be
part of that formal row of panelists. That
row has nothing to do with this environment, which is meant to break up people
into little groups.
Comment: We finally got him talking about
the right thing-about people.
Comment: As an architect, there is a lot
more you can do if you have dedication and
belief, but that is a different subject. We
were talking about the city giving you 20%
more space if you build this theatre and
another 20% if you build a plaza. What
happens to that building at 5:30? All the
people that were in the building go back to
Westchester, Long Island, New Jersey. The
people that live in the city don't get a
chance to use that space as theatre because they don't get off the block, because
they don't have 60 cents for carfare.
Comment: I should answer that. The building has to be open until midnight.
Comment: But there is nobody there because everybody is in Westchester or Jersey or Connecticut or Long Island. They are
not there. You walk up Park Avenue and
there is nobody there. People are moving
without stopping. There is none of the interaction of people that Duffy wants-the
interaction that makes the theatre and bri ngs
excitement to the city. The architects have
a responsibil ity that they have never in this
Comment: If you are so interested in interaction with people, how come you won't
let other people do what they want to do.
You're not interested in interaction here.
You have just proved your point. You have
told everybody they haven't told you what
you want to hear.
Klaus Pinter said that people don't know
Europe because they don't know Manhattan.
I am saying that you don't know Manhattan
because you don't know the space you are
in right now. I am the sort of person who
would rather have an old house than a new
house because you can adapt to it.
Comment: I said that I hoped to hear. But
to answer your question, the architect does
have responsibility; he is not only the tool
of the developer, he has the responsibility
to get to the people. I happen to think architecture is a great profession and the architect has the responsibility to reach people and say to them: "It is your city, your
state, your money! Give us some of it back
so we can use it on the people in the
ghettos and provide theatres."
I got tired of going out and using the
street because we found out during the War
Moratorium that a bus with different levels
was a natural stage. So many people pushed
But the architect has not done that. The
architect is not aware of his power and of
the great respect that the average person
has for the architect.
THEATER DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY
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