I found this article about how Ensemble based theatre is changing America’s (specifically LA’s) Theatre Scene. The article talks about the movement towards work that is created through a collaboration of actors, directors, and playwrights. It is a really great article, and people considering going to LA next year should check out the theatre companies listed.
As a D&P student, the idea that stood out to me was this- I wonder if this movement towards ensemble based work will make the role of designers obsolete? In this process, the design of the production is developed in the rehearsal process, between the actors and designers. Most professional designers are working on more than one show at once, and don’t have time to be in the rehearsal hall everyday. But without a designer, the actors and director would have to be much more aware of design concepts.
The article also made me wonder about how the role of stage managers differ in ensemble based work. Would they be a part of the ensemble, with an equal voice in creative choices? It would seem odd, in this structure, to have someone sit quietly on one end of the room. So perhaps this movement is going to cause theatre makers to be more well rounded artists, and not just educate themselves within their discipline.
In this country, your title within the theatre world, and with a certain production is very specific, very narrow, and often defines who you are as a person. But if ensemble based theatre becomes a dominant style, then theatre makers are going to have to change the way they view themselves, and each other.
I think BU SOT is already feeling the importance of this movement, and making changes to accommodate it. This year is the first year that freshman D&P have come in without a declared major. The freshman are getting a more rounded education in all of the disciplines, and take classes with the performance students sooner, and more often.
I find this movement towards more collaborative theatre really exciting. These ensemble based companies are just another example of artists making their own place in the theatre scene, and not waiting for someone else to offer them a job.