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What makes promenade different?

In Promenade the staging or performance area may be set in various locations in a venue.  There may even be no distinction between the area the audience sit or stand in and the space for action. The audience inhabit, not just watch, a space.  They must change their focus, move to watch the action or even interact or 'mingle' with the cast and action.  Promenade is a popular format for outdoor performance.  It lends itself to a number of performance genres and ambitious, yet accessible productions.

Putting on a promenade performance comes with its logistical, technical and challenges.  On the other hand, promenade opens many doors of opportunity - allowing a spectrum of spaces to form an interactive performance route.  Just as the performance space is more flexible, often so must be the technical solutions. Cait Davis in Those Eyes, That Mouth; Photo: Richard Campbell

Testimonies from audiences indicate that they value the whole interactive experience, not only as theatre but as a total event.

Promenade theatre in Scotland

Several companies in Scotland, including those usually building-based, have included some promenade in their repertoire.  There are those however that specialise in promenade, site-specific theatre.  The Arches Theatre utilises its distinctive building spaces for indoor performance, as well as integrating outdoor promenade into its programme.

Poorboy are an example of a company taking the Arches Theatre programme outdoors with its promenade production.  Creating site-specific, promenade performances of new work across the country, Poorboy uses stories and characters to draw an audience into physical places including, on one occasion, a disused airbase. 

Bridgbuilders; Photo: courtesy Poorbly The performance is a walk through a journey where collaboration between performers, musicians and visual artists tells the stories through action, soundscape, found and constructed objects, viewpoints and smells.

Read more about both the Arches and its theatre company, and the artistic director of Poorboy, in this month's profile and focus (see links to the right).

Other Scottish companies who take a particular interest in promenade include Highway Diner.  Of their production 'Works of Temporary Solace':

'This show takes audience participation to a new level; we were even given postcards that we wrote and sent along the way. A truly original and fun experience.' (Three Weeks)  '

Highway Diner serve up one or two unforgettable moments: a wordless love quadrangle played out so energetically that one couple slammed right into me whilst whirling round in a passionate embrace; a beautifully choreographed lover's tiff conducted via walkie-talkie; and, of course, that scene in the middle of Queen Street with the ballet-dancing cars.' (The Scotsman)

Grid Iron is another acclaimed company engaged in promenade performance.

Grid Iron's Fermentation; Photo: Keith Brame

'A truly splendid young company, Grid Iron has produced among the most startling theatre we have witnessed over the last five years. Concentrating on site-specific promenade theatre, the company has brought audiences to new spaces and confronted their expectations about theatre.' (The List)

* Profile on Sandy Thomson
* Focus on The Arches
Related links
* The Arches
* Poorboy
* Grid Iron
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