REALLY MOVING DRAMA – taking theatre for a ride


ISBN: 9781534866751

Really Moving Drama began as a PhD thesis examining the site-specific revolution that occurred in theatre performance in Melbourne throughout the 1980s. From 1979 to the early 1990s a number of small, professional companies took theatre out of dedicated buildings into places where their audiences lived, worked, travelled and played. Deriving from independent filmmaking, ‘happenings’ and political street theatre, these self-described ‘location plays’ were performed on busses, trams, and riverboats, as well as in tents, houses, cinemas, pubs, galleries, prisons, parks and gardens. What became known through 8 iterations as “The Tram Show” was staged over a dozen years on light-rail vehicles in both Melbourne and Adelaide, trambulating a total distance that would have taken its combined nightly audiences halfway around the world. These early forms of site-specific theatre immersed spectators in their places of performance in ways that liberated a whole suite of new sensations – beyond sight and hearing – to include touch, taste, smell, balance etc. In this way they moved the ‘art of theatre’ into literally new territory.Here the practice broke through not only theatre’s 4th wall (between stage and audience), but the 5th wall (between individual audience members) and 6th walls as well (between the play as a whole and a random outside audience sometimes looking back in). In the example of the Tram, Bus, and Boat Shows spectators could even witness the events of the play through a kind of 7th wall: that of their own reflection in the vehicle’s night-time window: watching themselves watch the play as it spread from its ‘really moving’ stage out onto the streets beyond…