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Xfest
SIUE Alumni Association

What is Xperimental Theatre?

"Experimental theater is like conducting a science experiment," said Chuck Harper, associate professor of theater and dance at SIUE. "Basically, you're saying: 'What would happen if?'"

When Chuck goes to a play, he has a list of things that he would like to see: "Dance, theater, violence, sex ... I don't think I'm that different from other people who go to the theater." Experimental theater productions incorporate some or all of these elements, as well as others, to modernize traditional works, traditionalize modern works and so much more.

Experimental theater alerts the audience to "wake up." Sometimes experimental theater allows artists to celebrate ways to involve audiences in a show. Other times it might incorporate a specific style of dance, such as tap, or creative movement or music, such as jazz, in a space-age setting or a time period that is not customarily associated with the specific style or music genre injected.

The idea is to experiment.

Experimental theatre asks questions that traditional theatre has stopped asking.

  • What is the performer's relationship to the audience?
  • What is the performer's responsibility to the audience?
  • What is the audience's responsibility to the performers?
  • Where can theatre happen?
  • Is there more than one way to tell a story?
  • Just how important is story anyway?
  • Is there any such thing as "character" or are there only people and words and ideas?

Can we be entertained and provoked at the same time? We feel confident that the answer to the final question is "yes."





Xfest is made possible through the generous support of the Office of the Provost, College of Arts & Sciences, the Department of Theater and Dance and audiences like you. We would like to say a special thank you to Grant Andree and the SIUE Arts & Issues Series for partnering with Xfest to extend the series into the summer.

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