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A Short History of Western Performance Space


  • 55 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 326 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.63 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 792/.094
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: PN2570 .W56 2003
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Theater--Europe--History
    • Theaters--Europe--History

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521813242 | ISBN-10: 0521813247)

This innovative book provides a historical account of performance space within the theatrical traditions of western Europe. David Wiles takes a broad-based view of theatrical activity as something that occurs in churches, streets, pubs and galleries as much as in buildings explicitly designed to be 'theatres'. He traces a diverse set of continuities from Greece and Rome to the present, including many areas that do not figure in standard accounts of theatre history. Drawing on the cultural geography of Henri Lefebvre, the book identifies theatrical performances as spatial practices characteristic of particular social structures. It is not a history of contexts for dramatic literature, but the history of an activity rooted in bodies and environments. Wiles uses this historical material to address a pressing concern of the present: is theatre better performed in modern architect-designed, apparently neutral empty spaces, or characterful 'found' spaces?

• A contribution to dramatic theory, understanding theatre not in terms of what is said or happens on stage but in terms of spatial relationships • Takes a much broader view of theatre than previous theatre histories • Offers complex and wide-ranging material in a digestible form


Acknowledgements; List of illustrations; 1. Introduction; 2. Sacred space; 3. Processional space; 4. Public space; 5. Sympotic space; 6. The cosmic circle; 7. The cave; 8. The empty space; Select bibliography; Index.


'… the range of his study promises that most readers will discover surprising connections and contrasts between the theatre of their period and others … an inspiring read for the theatre practitioner as well as a crucial reference for the scholar of theatre or cultural anthropology … Theatres and Encyclopedias is well worth reading, whether one is a scholar of print and theatre history, early modern drama and literature, or the general etiology of western culture.' Rebecca Nesvet, English

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