WBEZ | outdoor theater http://www.wbez.org/tags/outdoor-theater Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Outdoor theater: The pleasures and perils http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/outdoor-theater-pleasures-and-perils-101184 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/outdoor%20theater%20fireworks%20flickr%20adam%20baker.jpg" style="height: 415px; width: 620px; " title="(Flickr/Adam Baker)" /></div><p>As I sit in my air-conditioned apartment dodging 100-degree heat, I must admit I don&rsquo;t look forward to venturing out to spend an evening on a lawn breathing leaden air and watching Shakespeare.&nbsp; And that tells you the entire story of the drawbacks of outdoor theater: Everyone, actors and audience alike, is at the mercy of the elements.&nbsp; If it rains, we have to cancel; if it already has rained, we have to skirt mud and still end up with wet bottoms; if mosquitoes arrive, we can slap them or ignore them but either way they&#39;re going to be around.&nbsp;(And if you tickle us, do we not laugh?)&nbsp;Outdoor theater, in other words, is a supremely physical experience.</p><p>And that, despite its disadvantages, is what makes outdoor theater worth doing.&nbsp;Theater artists often comment on the difference between a film, where the actors are mere shadows on screen, and a play, where the actors are living breathing beings occupying the space right in front of you. One of these events is real in a way the other is not.</p><p>By the same token, the physical awareness provoked by outdoor theater &ndash; that we&rsquo;re all sharing the humidity or the bugs or the sound of that plane that just flew overhead &ndash; makes an evening on the turf real in a way indoor performances are not.&nbsp;We may think we&rsquo;re distracted when we notice the pair of bunnies seated next to the stage earnestly observing the bipeds, but we&rsquo;re actually becoming aware of the whole environment in which theater takes place.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Theater&rdquo; doesn&rsquo;t just happen on the stage; as Jane Wagner and Lily Tomlin observed in&nbsp;<em>In Search of Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe.</em>&nbsp;In fact, they described &ldquo;the goosebump experience&rdquo; of a play as being provoked by the fact that &ldquo;a group of strangers sitting together in the dark are laughing and crying about the same thing.&rdquo;&nbsp; It&#39;s hard to worry about mosquito bites when you&#39;re experiencing goosebumps &ndash; so come on out and play.</p></p> Fri, 27 Jul 2012 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/outdoor-theater-pleasures-and-perils-101184