Temporary forms of performative space: Impact of temporary architecture on audience diversification

Kristína Boháčová, Alexander Schleicher

Cite this article
Boháčová, K., Schleicher, A. (2024) ‘Temporary forms of performative space: Impact of temporary architecture on audience diversification’, Architecture Papers of the Faculty of Architecture and Design STU, 29(1), pp. 32-36. https://www.doi.org/10.2478/alfa-2024-0005



We are publishing this paper as a partial output of a larger body of research. It serves to analyse the data collected during the implementation of the object, which was created during the research by design phase. Along with the theoretical background, a part of the dissertation thesis is devoted to this issue. The fundamental question becomes how such interventions affect the show attendance; we focus on documenting the visitor profile, the ratio of viewers, ranging from new, casual viewers to viewers who regularly seek theatre as a type of culture. We investigate the direct impact of temporary architecture on theatre attendance and audience diversification.

In the introduction, we clarify the basic terminology used. In the book Occupying spaces: experimental theatre in central Europe: 1950-2010, Tatjana Lazorčáková presents two poles of the spaces in which theatre takes place: i. so-called theatre architecture, which includes stone theatres with a traditional stage and auditorium layout, and auditoriums with theatrical equipment, and ii. non-theatrical spaces, which include spaces not originally intended for theatre. Attention is paid to the second group of non-theatre spaces. The temporary architectural input into these spaces leads to the origin of the category under research – the term temporary forms of performative space. In this part of the research, the architectural input – the form – represents an object designed and realized by us. By implementing the object in two different types of non-theatre spaces, we create our own per-formative space. In addition to the object developed for the needs of the research, we also mention examples from domestic and foreign environments that complete the idea of similar types of projects.

Inspired by these projects, we abstract their characteristic features. Distinctive form, installation in public space and unconventional production are the characteristics that we intentionally use in our experiment. Similarly to the analysed examples from abroad, our object’s aim is primarily making theatre accessible to a wider audience. In the experiment performed, we aim to confirm that temporary architecture forms intended for performative art can diversify, and expand the audience, and thus make the theatre more inclusive. The method we have chosen involves the analysis of two performances. In the Jera show, we analyse the impact of an object situated in a public space on the composition of visitors. The object takes on characteristics adopted from examples from abroad. The Elektra performance is used as a reference example, where the object is present, but it is not necessary for the relevance of the data obtained.

Elektra (is not coming) was a project developed under the interdisciplinary civic association Objektorárium, which brings together young professionals from the field of art and architecture. The production was hosted in the Ad: creative centre, located in the former boiler room at the Faculty of Architecture and Design, Slovak University of Technology, in Bratislava, Slovakia. The original text by director Matej Trnovec and playwrights Veronika Briestenská and Martina Havierová, Elektra (is not coming), was based on the motives of Euripides’ Elektra and other ancient myths. In the Elektra (is not coming) production, the object is a part of the stage, the play is performed inside and outside the object, the audience is seated in an improvised auditorium. Since the performance is hosted indoors, the object was not intended to function as an attractor. The role of this performance in relation to the research is primarily comparative. We do analyse the data obtained from the questionnaires and use them as a control sample in relation to Jera.

Jera – a dance movement performance for one performer – was delivered at the end of October in an exterior environment on the Námestie slobody (Freedom Square) in Bratislava, Slovakia. The choreographer was Nela Rusková, a final-year student at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, Slovakia, who was invited to join the – at that time emerging – interdisciplinary project Objektorárium. The object acted as an eye-catcher, as it was already installed in its location, along with a QR code referring to the performance, posted a week before the performance. We were inspired by projects from abroad where the objects appealed to potential visitors not only through traditional communication channels, but also by their distinctive form or by appearing in a space that was previously empty. The building provoked curiosity and the information reached people who are not regular theatregoers, which was already evident from the interviews with the audience before (after) the performance and was confirmed later by the answers collected in the questionnaires.

During both performances, audience data was collected by way of questionnaires. The research questions reflected the need to identify how the audience learned about the show, or what their motivation was to attend a particular performance. We also investigated the audience’s relationship with the performance organisers to be able to separate those audience members whose motivation to come to the performance was personal (relationship with the organiser team or the cast). These data are confronted in the interior vs exterior relationship, to compare the number of casual (new) spectators that an object placed in the square was able to attract.

Keywords: space, temporary, performance, statistics, event, architecture