To uncover these commonalities, my thesis will focus on three of the most influential forms of alternative theatre: Grotowski's Poor Theatre, Joseph Chaikin's Open Theatre, and Richard Schechner's New Theatre. These three alternative approaches represent a dramatic departure from conventional theater, using techniques that have as their central goal the development of intimate interaction between the audience and the actors. The central technique for this is to remove barriers and social conventions / traditions that typify traditional productions.
To adequately establish the social role that alternative theatre uses in constructing a performance, I will use a comparative study of these three alternative forms of theatre.
Since Grotowski had the most significant influence on the development of nonconventional theatre, I will begin by examining the actor-audience relationship in three contexts: psycho-physical, psycho-analytic language and the physical arrangement methods used to stage performances with the Polish Lab Theatre.
These three elements will form the template of my research, and are important to understand the social dimension of alternative productions. Further exploration will include the social function in the New and Open theatres; drawing from Chaikin's and Schechner's methods of using improvisational acting as a means of achieving a dialogue with a spectator. After all, Schechner "stresses the need for the actor to feel, rather than think out, their actions," thus forming a true emotional bond with the audience.
While there is considerable material on Grotowski, Chaikin and Schechner, I will also explore some of the social aspects of alternative theatre in Ariane Mnouchkine's notion of "found space," and Allen Kaprow's "happenings."