Set designer Christine Jones takes a minimal approach to theatre
Set designer Christine Jones (Spring Awakening; American Idiot) has created what she calls “the world’s smallest performing arts center.” Entitled Theatre For One, it is in fact, perhaps the world’s smallest traveling theatre, designed for one performer and an audience of, you guessed it, one! The idea is to create a space with no barrier between the audience and the performer, creating a meaningful theatrical experience, making a public event into a private or intimate moment.
Invited by the Times Square Alliance for Public Art, Theatre for One will “appear” in Times Square—where it will need a canopy to protect it from the elements—for 10 days in May 2010. Jones anticipates a total of 300 performances of less than 10 minutes or so. The project was previewed in early December at New York City College of Technology, with their resident theatre company, Theatreworks, helping to work out any technical and architectural kinks. The mini-theatre was designed by the hip, urban architectural firm, LOT-EK, with Jones serving as artistic director, Glynn David Turner as stage manager, and Megan Marshall as project manager.
Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano of LOT-EK designed the theatre using road cases, in a good example of form follows function. For Jones, the idea came from a church for one, although she also references the private concepts of sex booths and confessionals. “I was thinking about sacred spaces for rituals as theatres,” she says. “Then I saw a magician at a wedding and he did his tricks right in front of the guests. And a light bulb went off in my head. This could be performed privately, and fuels my interest in the relationship of actor and audience member.”
Two road boxes are joined to create the theatre, with red-padded walls inside and LED lighting. “Some day I hope to have 20 of them,” says Jones, who envisions dancers, magicians, and actors among the performers. In the meantime, more than one person can see the performance via video with the actor projected onto screens, taking theatre-for-one literally out of the box.