Theatre for One

[Image: Theater for One by Christine Jones and LOT-EK].

LOT-EK and set designer Christine Jones will be premiering their project Theater for One in Times Square, two weeks from now. It “will be up for 10 days, with performances open to the general public”—but, as the architects point out, the public is only invited “one at a time.”

[Image: Theater for One by Christine Jones and LOT-EK].

Specifically, the petite space is “a theater for one actor and one audience member. Inspired by small one-to-one spaces—such as the confessional or the sex peep-booth—Theater for One explores the intense emotion of live theater through the direct and intimate one-to-one interaction of actor and audience.”

[Images: Theater for One by Christine Jones and LOT-EK].

In many ways, I’m reminded of the dramatic intensity of Nancy Bannon’s Pod Project, which consisted of “13 private, one-on-one performances housed within 13 sculpted spaces.” In Bannon’s work, “the viewer actually enters the performance environment and experiences a one-on-one exchange in unconventional proximity. The interiors of the sculptures/pods are personalized”—but this also means that each pod has been architecturally stylized so as to fit the dramas involved.

[Image: Theater for One by Christine Jones and LOT-EK].

What I like about the LOT-EK/Christine Jones project is the blank architecturalization of this dramatic experience; portable, easily deployed, and externally neutral, the Theater for One could just as easily be reused as an interviewing station, a place for personal confrontation, or even a writing lab. It could be a dressing room, private cinema, or staging ground for psychedelic self-actualization—and I would actually love to see this thing hit the road someday, popping up all over the U.S. and abroad, to see what flexibly subjective uses people wish to put it to. NPR meets Storycorps, by way of a one-actor play.

6 thoughts on “Theatre for One”

  1. Samuel R. Delany suggests a similar idea–I think in his novel Triton, though I don't have it handy to check. I seem to recall that our protagonist encounters a theater troupe that performs for one person at a time. Key difference between that and this idea: the troupe, if I remember right, catches their one-person audience by surprise, in, for example, an alleyway. I find that much more charming that being trapped in a box, but who knows? I'll try anything once.

  2. that micro scale proscenium terrifies me a little…the uncertain separation between…do you look them in the eye? talk? do you respond to the character? the actor?

    but i really love your idea of the mobile interaction space this little theatre could become…cut off from all external influences…but where both subjects are participants in their own theatre…of sorts…performing for each other

  3. It's a confessional booth!

    Mind you, normally there's a screen between penitent and priest, so being on show like that could serve to reduce the penance.

    Hang on…who would be the performer – priest or penitent, the audience – penitent or priest?

    Thats three Our Fathers and 10 Hail Marys to me for coming up with such a bad idea!

  4. The "sex booth" comment probably tags the most viable use of this piece of work. Now I'm remembering the "self-cleaning," freestanding, coin-operated toilets that dot San Francisco's landscape. In certain locations–24th and Mission comes to mind–they are used almost exclusively for prostitution and shooting up. I suspect that the Theater for One (in Times Square!) would be similarly used, if unattended and left to the tender mercies of the street.

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