Honorable Mention, ATHE's 2018 Outstanding Book Award
Contextualizing the techniques and methods of the incredibly rich and vital genre of site-specific performance, author Bertie Ferdman traces the evolution of that term. Originally used for experimental staging practices and then later also for engaged situational events, site-specific is no longer sufficient for the genre’s many contemporary variations.
Using the term off-site, Ferdman illustrates five distinct ways artists have challenged the disciplinary framework of site-specific theatre: blurring the traditional boundaries between the fictional and the real; changing how the audience and actor interact with each other and whether they are physically together or apart; fabricating sites from physically bound, conceptually constructed, or virtual spaces; staging live situations in real/nonreal and often mediated encounters; and challenging our preconceived notions of time and space. Tracing the genealogy of site-based work through the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Ferdman outlines the theoretical groundwork for her study in the introduction. Individual chapters focus on distinct types of off-sites—the interdisciplinary discourse of disciplinary sites; the spaces of audience engagement with spectator sites; the dislocation of time for temporal sites; and the historiographical spaces of mapping for urban sites.
Ferdman examines site-based work being done in the Americas by contemporary companies and artists experimenting with new forms and practices for site-driven theatre. Key productions discussed include Private Moment by David Levine, Geyser Land by Mary Ellen Strom and Ann Carlson, Jim Findlay’s Dream of the Red Chamber, and Lola Arias’ Mi Vida Después.