Performance art presents a unique way to transfer stories, educate the community, and function as an integral part of rituals in many cultures. The concept of theatre is much like reading a book. It provides an escape, where the audience member can become part of the story being told, or just experience a different reality through the lenses of someone else’s perspective.
The Overzicht Arts Village in Sunnyside, Pretoria, provided a social hub for locals in the late 20th century. The historic Breytenbach Theatre was central to this social activity. As a result of the city centre and suburbia expanding east, the block lost its social significance as an arts precinct. The Breytenbach Theatre, underutilized and in a state of disrepair, presents an opportunity for the theatre to respond to the heritage of the block and to be re-ignited through introducing a black box theatre complex.
The Breytenbach Theatre holds the potential for stories to be interpreted differently by all people involved in the performance. This in turn can stimulate social interaction as there is a community of free-thinking minds that may all perceive the performance differently. Thus, the theatre becomes the catalyst to revitalise the precinct. A thorough study is done to document the history of the context and site, as well as assess its current state. An investigation into relevant literature, precedents and a local case study, provides principles that guide the re-design of the Breytenbach Theatre.
The design intention is to create a platform for the community to tell, experience and create stories. This is achieved through establishing a strategy of connections to expose a narrative of heritage, theatre production and theatre mechanism. The design intervention ensures that wherever the user is situated, they will encounter framed views of both the historic orthodox theatre and its stage tower. The user follows a series of choreographed journeys where they experience different types of theatre, as well as become part of the ‘production’ themselves.
KEY WORDS: Interior Architecture | Storytelling | Theatre Design | Social Catalyst | Black box theatre | Adaptive reuse | Heritag
Mini Dissertation (MInt (Prof))--University of Pretoria, 2019.