chapter  12
6 Pages

A taxonomy of spatial function: Gay McAuley

ByGAY MCAULEY

The theatre space is divided; it is a place of employment for some, a place of entertainment and cultural enrichment for others. The two groups have their designated areas within the space that is, in traditional theatres, quite rigidly demarcated and conceptualized in terms of front and back (“front of house” and “backstage”). For the spectators theatre is a social event, their reception of the performance is part of a social experience, the areas within the theatre space to which they have access, which can be called audience space, facilitate (or discourage) types of social behavior and social interaction. The point of access to the building, the foyers, stairways, corridors, bars and restaurants, the box office, and of course the auditorium are all parts of this space, and the way we experience them has an unavoidable impact upon the meanings we take away with us. The activities that prevail here – socializing and watching the socializing of others, consuming food and drink (often alcoholic), the commercial transactions to secure access to the performance – are as much a

part of the theatre experience as the central activity of watching the play and may even be the dominant memory retained afterward.