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Claustrophobic Much? This Theatre Is Your Worst Nightmare
January 25, 2013
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T41-Main-1.jpg

You, a performer, and a black box.

What?

The portable container above is the home of Theatre For One, where shows are performed by one actor, in a space that only seats one audience member.

Talk about intimate and interactive.

The company was created by visionary set designer Christine Jones. Raised in Montreal, she originally thought about a career as a dancer. She eventually got her BFA in theatrical design at Concordia University in 1989, and later moved to the US to get her MFA from NYU (where she is currently teaching at the Tisch School of the Arts).

She stayed in New York, unquestionably one of the biggest theatre cities in the world and rife with opportunities, and has done some pretty impressive shows there, from Off-Broadway ('Coraline') to the Great White Way (including the controversial 'Spring Awakening' and the stage adaptation of Green Day's 'American Idiot' - her design for that show won her a Tony Award).

Theatre For One became the antithesis to her Broadway career, a way to counteract the expansive sets she was designing for big Broadway houses.

The idea started when she saw magician Steve Cuiffo going around performing at a wedding. His sleight-of-hand, performed just for her, sparked something. As she writes on her website, 'I was struck by the increased impact the effect had when it was done for an individual,' and she found that privately experiencing something meant for a larger audience was 'intoxicating.'

She wanted to recreate that feeling and share it, but how small could she go? How intimate could the experience be without making people uncomfortable?

T41-Web.jpgDesigned by the architectural firm LOT-EK, Christine had a mobile black box built, complete with doors, movable partitions, and a seating section for one. Lined with red velvet, the air-conditioned booth measures 4 feet by 9 feet.

And one of the first performers she lined up to perform in her new theatre? Magician Steve Cuiffo, who inspired the idea, doing five-minute one-on-one sets.

The travelling Theatre For One's highest-profile installations have been in Times Square for several residencies, but its only appearance in Canada, so far, was at Concordia's Faculty of Fine Arts Gallery in Montreal in September 2011.

If you're in New York this Monday, January 28, Christine will be one of the speakers at the second TEDxBroadway seminar.

And check out this video to learn more about this innovative theatre company.

Related:
A $1 Million Thank You Gift: Meryl Streep Gives Back to the Iconic New York Theatre Where She Got Her Start

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Tweet Seats? Some Theatres Introduce Dedicated Twitter Sections

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