As a board member of the Grand Center for Arts & Culture in New Ulm, Minnesota, I have been working with PlaceBase Productions on a street theatre production. Ashley Hanson and Andrew Gaylord create historic dramas that move, physically as well as emotionally. In our case, that means the audience will walk down Minnesota Street in the heart of the National Register Commercial Historic District (for which I wrote the nomination).
The work of PlaceBase Productions is grounded in the work of Sally Mackey and others in Great Britain, using the concept of “applied theatre” to connect place and story, without the traditional audience/performer dichotomy of a theater setting. While different from living history at a historic site, there is a kinship. It is not bound to the rules that the interpreter stay in period character. In one of Hanson and Gaylord’s productions, the actors might break into song or turn the tables and begin quizzing the audience. They might use non-period props that create a setting or mood. We’re working toward a May 2015 performance of New Ulm’s story. The goal is to activate memories, provoke thought, and promote activity on the street. It is truly community theater.
Here’s a link to PlaceBase Productions.