“Sometimes a bare stage is to its actors what a little black dress is to a beautiful woman: a showcase for charms that require no camouflage….” Ben Brantley, The New York Times
The inspiration for today’s blog post comes from this piece about The Bare Stage in the New York Times.
I adore a bare stage. There’s nothing more thrilling than walking on the stage of an empty theatre, to turn and see the back wall up stage and then the empty audience down stage. I love the echoey sound your feet make when you’re in a really big space. I know that acting is no long in my cards but oh do I miss that feeling of being wrapped in the atmosphere a bare stage. It is the most electric silence.
I also enjoy seeing shows that only use actors and the audience’s imagination to fill the space. Imagination is a form of pure theatre for me, so when a blank canvas like a bare stage is used to create a world; that is right up my alley. It makes me feel like part of the show because I have to engage to get the full experience. Some of my favourite images from plays, the ones that take up space in my mind are from shows that explored the less is more philosophy: four wooden chairs on the front lip of a 3,000 seat theatre. The Little Foxes envisioned by Ivo Van Hove where there was no furniture and the walls were covered in velvet.
I think it’s my fringe festival past that gives me such a strong connection to the bare stage. We were travelling across the country from festival to festival so the set had to fit in the back of a station wagon. Over the years we downsized considerably until our last tour where the set was a single wooden folding chair, and a really nice suit.
The bare stage is a magical place to me. So many possibilities. What does the bare stage mean to you?