Performativity of Theatre Architecture


Due to the increasing interest in performance as a design paradigm in the last 25 years, the term “performative architecture” can be defined very broadly within an expansive context from technology (structure, thermal energy, acoustics, etc.) to cultural theory, from socio-economic to environmental issues. This paper will try to make a synthesis between spatial performance and spatial performativity in order to use this synthesis as the critical framework for its analysis. Judith Butlers’s notion of performativity has entered into the vocabulary of architecture to explore the interrelation between subjectivity and place and has been used to think through how subjectivity is enacted in place and how place itself is enacted in the process of performance. On the other hand, performative architecture has a capacity to respond to changing social, cultural and technological conditions by perpetually reformatting itself as an index of emerging cultural patterns. In performative architecture, space unfolds in indeterminate ways, in contrast to the fixity of predetermined, programmed actions, events and effects. In this sense this paper aims to reread and reinterpret some examples of the 20th century theatre architecture in light of performance and performativity in order to answer the question: Can any black box theatre be called as an example of performative architecture?