Open Air Theatre: How Did It Become So Popular?
It all started back in the 10th century ...
POSTED BY DAVID PIBWORTH ON 19/03/2019 @ 8:00AM
Open air theatre has grown in popularity and has turned into somewhat of an annual tradition for many in the UK ...
Open air theatre is regaining it's popularity in the United Kingdom!
copyright: quasargal / 123rf
But how did this al fresco experience really start? It seems to date back to the 10th century where drama and performing appeared in church services, particularly at Easter time.
"Stories from the Bible were dramatized to the congregation because many could not read!"
Later, around the 13th/14th century, these plays were divorced from the church and instead were performed by the craft guild in outdoor spaces. They would perform on wooden carts that moved around the streets to gather an audience and then would come to rest at an arranged site.
Around the end of the 15th century many towns and cities, including York and Chester, had prominent outdoor performance spaces such as inn yards or enclosed courtyards.
This encouraged the build of more purpose outdoor theatres, which lead to the construction of one of the most famous outdoor theatres in 1576, The Globe, which also had its very own resident playwright, a Mr William Shakespeare.
As the years continued, more and more indoor theatres were also built, to house the changing theatre genres and the production that went with it. Inside venues soon became the preference with theatregoers, for both staging effects and also comfort.
"Even now, I can imagine this still applies to many!"
In recent years, I have seen that the love of open-air theatre is once more on the rise. I believe it's because people are starting to enjoy the novelty of being outdoors, somewhere unexpected, beautiful and perhaps quirky and not having to pay through the nose for such a wonderful and different experience.
At the Arches Theatre, come rain or shine, we want to bring our audience to a beautiful setting to enjoy a pre-theatre picnic with friends and family, and a fantastic live performance by some truly brilliant acting companies.
The nature of outdoor theatre promotes a great relationship between the actor and their audience, as they can wander through the crowd and encourage a lot of interaction and audience participation.
"All these elements are part and parcel, to me, as to why outdoor theatre is one of the best experiences you could have!"
I have been lucky enough to not only watch many an outdoor performance, but also act on an open-air stage. I performed at the infamous Minack Theatre, Cornwall in Shakespeare's 'Cymbeline', which was immense fun; and what a place to do it.
There are so many brilliant open air theatre venues. Where have you been, and which one have you enjoyed the most?
Until next time ...
More about David Pibworth ...
David is the owner of David Pibworth Productions (DPP) which provide corporate entertainment and also actors for corporate training and development.
Having worked in the Light Entertainment field for many years and produced shows for Al Murray & Joe Pasquale amongst others, David is in a position to advise on well-known comedy and musical acts. DPP also represent Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's scripts which include Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son.
He is the director of MK Theatre of Comedy who are very well known locally for their stage adaptations of classic comedy scripts such as Fawlty Towers, The Vicar of Dibley, Allo Allo and many others.
He is a long-standing member of Equity and the Directors Guild of Great Britain and has acted in, and directed, many productions over the years, mainly in Light Entertainment, but with occasional forays into Shakespeare etc. Every Christmas he is contracted as an Ugly Sister in Cinderella, currently with 'That's Entertainment' who also use him as a director.
He teaches eccentric magic for The Pauline Quirke Academy and MKTOC also run a youth drama school in Olney from the DPP offices.
David maintains his busy lifestyle is a surefire way to avoid being on any committees. He is married to Julie, and they have one daughter, Esther and live in Clifton Reynes, surrounded by dogs, cats and horses. They live so close to the church that David has instructed his daughter - when he dies and not before - to fire him over the wall from a circus cannon.
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