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Making Communities: Furnace Hill, Sheffield - Furnacepolis -

Part 1 Project 2014
Pierre Shaw
University of Sheffield UK
The performance of the social being cannot be removed spatially nor can it be detached from the political. A community begins with the political; our interactions and relations with one another. This, along with what binds people to a physical place create the conditions for community.

The ancient athenians practiced a form of democracy that involved the citizen in a system of direct participation. A spatial tripartite model that functioned in and around the three main public spaces of the ancient polis with each playing a separate role in providing spaces for reflection, debate and decision making. The agora (space of trade), the pnyx (space of politics) and the ancient theatre combined through movement between these spaces allowed the citizenry to move between participation and representation, practice and theory: actor and spectator.

In today's Furnace Hill, Sheffield, traditional manufacture and trade in small steel industry has long provided the local community with spaces for commercial venture. Political space is carved out from the relations built in these situations. Reviving the ancient trialectical relationship between theatre, trade and the political supposes the proposition of a community theatre space that will allow citizens to participate as actors and spectators with other citizens in their community.

The theatre is conceived as a space for participatory performance. Spectators become actors in a world where skene and theatron become one, where the theatre in the round loses all directional power the audience is politically empowered and spatially engaged. Supporting and working alongside existing commercial components the theatre completes the contemporary tripartite model, providing space for public and community activity through the political.

Pierre Shaw

Robert Blundell
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