Like many industries in 2024, theatre is seeing major shifts. One change you may be noticing is that showcases are not always presented in the standard theatrical space. Instead, some works have been relocated to unconventional or shared spaces. 

While this shift can present unique challenges, it allows theatremakers to think outside the box, get creative, and produce innovative shows. Additionally, a move to unconventional spaces may allow those without access to a typical theatre space to create great art. And as theatremakers, we should always strive for accessibility, right? 

On The Stage explores a few nontraditional theatre spaces to consider for your next showcase and ways to create meaningful experiences for your patrons

Nontraditional Theatre Spaces 

While it may be hard to accept the paradigm shift away from the ‘theatre’ as you know it, there is already a variety of works presented in nontraditional theatre spaces. These are just a few: 

Arena Stages

Known as ‘theatre in the round,’ an arena stage allows audience members to view the show from every vantage point. By having an audience surrounding the actors, patrons can enjoy a truly immersive experience, and actors are challenged to be even more aware of their body positioning and enunciation. 

Arena stages can be created in outdoor courtyards or indoor spaces with atriums. Before committing to an arena stage, ensure that all audience members have a strong vantage point and consider acoustics. 

Thrust Stages

While still traditional in some senses, a thrust stage extends into the audience on three sides. This rectangle-shaped stage creates a more intimate experience and allows the performers and audience members to connect on a deeper level. 

Additionally, with the added space, a thrust stage encourages more creative and dynamic blocking. Your actors can also work on subtle behavioral choices when placed much closer to the audience. 

Warehouses or Abandoned Buildings

While scouting out a warehouse or abandoned building may require additional work, permits, and fees, it can create a truly captivating experience for your patrons. Moreover, your actors may feel greater freedom to ‘go for it’ when they aren’t constrained to a traditional stage. Ensure the building you choose is thematically appropriate for your show, well-marketed on social media, and safe/accessible. 

Proscenium Stages

The unconventional part of a proscenium stage is its framed opening (an arch) separating the actors from the audience. Rectangular in shape, these stages allow audience members to view the show from one side. 

A proscenium stage is easily constructed by creating an arch on an elevated surface. A small but dynamic change, adding the arch can present an elevated vibe to your production and help your actors think outside the box. 


Much like areas, amphitheaters are typically outdoors. What makes an amphitheater stand out is that the stage is at the lowest point of the space, and all seating rises above it. Some have seating completely surrounding the space (like an area), while others have a backdrop with audience members around ¾ of the space. Outdoor performances can be tricky, it’s true. However, with proper planning, an amphitheater performance can feel reminiscent of summer stock productions, leaving your audience thoroughly impressed. 

Tips for Creating Meaningful Experiences

Creating theatre in nontraditional venues can be daunting – but with some creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, you can knock it out of the park. On The Stage offers a few tips to create meaningful experiences for your patrons: 

Build Around the Space

Whichever space you work in, consider it a blank canvas and a starting point. Build from there, creating a unique performance space that is captivating, yes, but also tailored to the needs of the production.

Consider How the Audience Will Interact with the Space

Creating theatre on a traditional elevated stage grants plenty of room between audience members, actors, and lighting and sound technicians. This comfort bubble may burst if you’re putting on a show in a nontraditional space, so consider your audience and their proximity. After all, the audience may be closer to the performers or even be part of the performance, depending on your chosen venue. It’s important to consider how the patrons will interact with the space – and how this will affect the show’s staging, blocking, and acting choices. 

Plan Ahead

Any step away from the conventional will present new challenges. Weather, acoustics, air conditioning, and technical aspects are all potential challenges that may arise, so make sure you anticipate those before landing on an unconventional venue. In short, make sure you take the time to scout your location and assess the space’s suitability for your show before making any major decisions. 

Think About Your Subject Matter

If you want to think outside the box with your venue, make sure the space you choose makes sense thematically. For example, doing The Lion King in an abandoned warehouse would be experimental. Still, it doesn’t make sense thematically, may throw off your audience, and may make it harder for them to connect to the subject matter. Instead, opt for a lush outdoor venue for a production of that nature and leave the warehouse venue for a more urban production like Rent

How On The Stage Can Help 

Producing theatre in unconventional spaces can be tricky and intimidating to be sure, but On The Stage’s all-in-one technology suite and other offerings are built for theatres and venues of all types – not just traditional stages. 

With features such as ticketing, box office, marketing, fundraising, and reporting tools, we’re dedicated to empowering organizations to reach their full potential, regardless of size or venue. 

Book a personalized demo with the team today to explore how we can help you create meaningful experiences for your community. Additionally, download our eBook, Redefining Theatre Spaces, to get tips from the pros and even more inspiration for your next show.

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