Any place could be used as a performance space where poets, musicians, dancers and other creative types congregate and express their work. Usually, an open mic is in a coffee shop or bar where creatives perform their work in an indoor setting. But environmental performance venues change that and make a statement you could put on a show anywhere. It could be in an alleyway, parking lot, bus stop or anywhere where performers can claim the space.

Who defines a performance space: The Artist

The first decision performers have to make is to decide to redefine a performance space. What if we defied convention and created performances in environmental locations where people could gather and share their art. Of course in these locations art is not usually what they are there for.

In this article, I will discuss two examples. Tunnel Performances and Light Rail are two locations that have a variety of challenges but also provide an exciting unpredictable environment.

Everything about a performance space in the outside environment should be used or perhaps not used based on the performers discretion. It is the awareness that is important and the possibility to make choices and recognize how everything can be part of the performance. This is important to recognize because there are things that will happen beyond your control.

This is part of the excitement in an unpredictable environment can make us feel really alive.

So what are some of the differences when the 4th wall has been broken? This means there is no separation between the performers and the audience. In this case, the audience are the pedestrians that are able to walk by on the same side or the opposite side and even straight through the performance. They may engage in the activity or not. Pedestrians can be used as participants and performers can acknowledge them and include them or decide to carry on as if they are not there.

Tunnel Challenges That You may Face

Bikes going past and traffic noise are prevalent and drivers in cars honking their horns with the roar of engines as well seem constant. Noise is all around. Performers decide do you use the noise in the performance or ignore it? So many choices the performer decide!

The dark and the light of a tunnel can be used and if there are stairs walking up or down into the light or away from it performers can make many choices.

Performers could be spread apart of the length of the entire tunnel and as people walk through dancers, guitar player and a poet perform for people barrier removed no separation between performers and audience.

Shadows can be used to add an exciting visually stimulating element. One example is record dancers and then their shadow and hence the illusion of shadows seemingly dance on their own.

A Place to Play And To Get Creative

This is also an Improv space. It is a place to play and discover.

It is a practice space to use all that is around and incorporate in the performance.

Spontaneity is encouraged performers never know what is going to happen. Performers should Engage in Situational Awareness.

Observe around you at all times.

If it is unsafe then it is time to use your judgment.

When you enter the space be aware at all times what is happening around you. Performers need to learn to be extremely observant.

Make Your Clear Choices

Some tunnels have stairs leading down. If this is the case, go up the stairs or down the stairs and venture into the light or go into the dark. Make these choices while performing.

Be careful as bikes can be going past. Decide on various things like music dance poetry or other types of performance. Let the performers create and contribute their own organic.

From the tunnel above we can see the light and the dark and the choices we can make based on our creative material.

In this particular space, there is another side passageway where other performers can create a back and forth banter confrontation. There are so many visually compelling ways to use the space. Wait for the evening and the lighting will be different and can convey a whole new meaning.

Once in the tunnel, performers can decide to go from the dark into the light or vice versa into the dark from the light.

An environmental performance space embodies and includes unpredictable moments full of creative options and choices.

Be safe in this experience. Don’t go alone take others and decide if it is safe atmosphere.

Unpredictability of Light Rail Performance

On the light rail it is extremely unpredictable. After all, people are just getting off of or going to work. Some are just trying to get from spot A to spot B. Some passengers want to be left alone. When a performer starts reading poetry or rapping or dancing the reactions can be all over the place. People may cheer and encourage others may want nothing to do with it and even become hostile.

The light rail also has plenty of noises from the stop bell to the announcer telling passengers what the next stop is. The camera person will have to be mobile and decide how to keep the camera steady at the same time. It is easy to get off balance with unpredictable starts and stops of the train.

Part of the artist’s mantra is to redefine art in the most unexpected of places. It is also the willingness to go and interrupt daily living with art. This is mainly done to celebrate and expose those who may not normally have art as a prevalent force in their lives.

The tunnel and light rail are two examples of location spaces that create an exciting environment for performers to play and discover their own work on their own terms. Hopefully, artists will be inspired to venture out into the environment and find their own place.

Or find another place an alleyway, parking lot, or bus stop to express your art.

It is up to you to decide which place you will Claim the Space for you and the rest of your participants to own as your specifically designated performance space.
Edgar Rider has been performing in environmental locations for years. He created Claim the Space idea with artistic friends as a way of interrupting daily activity on the street with art. He would like others to go out and create their own venue in an alleyway, parking lot or bus stop or other place of their choosing.