Theater in the Round

When most of us think about entertainment presented on a stage, we picture a building that’s divided roughly into two sections; one section for the audience and a raised platform for the entertainers to perform. The front section consists of rows of seats in sections and the back section consists of a raised stage with wings and a back-stage area. There’s also an orchestra pit (below floor level section) in between the stage area and the audience area usually.

That is the typical theater arrangement, but it isn’t the only way in which a theater can be arranged. One of the more interesting ways in which a theater can be arranged is “in the round.”

Theater-in-the-round means that the stage is in the center of the room and is surrounded by the audience. In one form of theater-in-the-round, the stage may be surrounded by the audience only on three sides. There is no curtain that separates the players from the audience before the production begins. There is no scenery. And there are no “sets.” Actors enter the stage via the aisles rather than the wings of a stage.

In a theater-in-the-round production, the actors have their backs to part of the audience at all times. It is a challenging format for entertainers. It’s also a format that’s been around a few centuries. It has enjoyed various degrees of popularity. The Greeks and the Romans were particularly fond of theater-in-the-round. But it fell out of favor for a while.

The concept has been resurrected, dusted off, and touted as a “new concept” in almost every century since. Margo Jones opened America’s first professional theatre-in-the-round company in 1947 when she opened her Theatre ’47 in Dallas, Texas.


By Hollywood Connections Center Staff

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