What is theatre?

On the face of it a stupid question I suppose. Theatre is the performance by an actor, the telling of a story, to  an audience – any number of people in any space. A very simplified way of putting it, with many things to contest within that statement I’m sure. But it serves my point that ‘theatre’ will conjure up a certain image in most of our minds of the space and the performance that happens in the moment within that space. It is of the moment, time bound. What I’ve been thinking about is the reviewing, photographing and general documenting of performance. These items can be accessed at any time, long after the performance itself is over. They are the only means of reviving that performance, they help its effects to be felt way into the future or when the performance is way in the past. Reviewing and documenting performance is a way of preserving it, of making that thing called ‘theatre’ be something that lasts for more than just that one moment. Should all these things be encompassed within the term ‘theatre’? Should we think about these acts as an extension of the performance and not just a means of keeping a record? Should we think more about our documentation of performances as something that is still an act of theatre making?


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