Where worlds collide!

Do you have a “hybrid theatre” story? Join the conversation!

Do you prefer your theatre straight up—or with a twist?

Hybrid theatre is one way to describe performance pieces that blend elements of two or more genres. These might include dance, poetry, gestural movement, hip-hop, video, performance art, storytelling, stand-up comedy, puppetry, visual art, new media—you name it.

Interdisciplinary work can be a lot of fun, especially when it upends an audience’s expectations about what they will see when they enter a theatre space.

You might catch a hybrid theatre piece at an Off Broadway mainstay like HERE, the theatre that has helped develop the work of such downtown divas as Basil Twist (Symphonie Fantastique) and Taylor Mac (The Lily’s Revenge), and which contributed this video.

Perhaps you’ve seen Twyla Tharp’s Broadway hit Movin’ Out, or Martha Clarke’s dance-theatre pieces. These hybrid works deftly combine genres and delight audiences. Many fans admire internationally known visionary theatre auteur Robert Wilson for his fascinating genre-busting creations.

Hybrid theatre goes back to… well, to the beginning of theatre. Ancient Greek plays were full of music and dance, sadly now lost. Opera is also a good example of a hybrid form. Think about it: Someone decided to create a spectacle that combined theatre and singing, with orchestral music and even choreography thrown in.

In some sense, hybrid theatre is difficult to nail down, since it’s all about defying and upturning definitions. What exactly, is theatre? What is dance? What is video? What are the rules and conventions attached to each one? Hybrid pieces often invite the spectator, and even the artists involved, to ask questions like these. It’s part of the fun.

On the other hand, theatre has always embraced multiple disciplines and genres, with artists mixing and matching techniques. Only recently have they been segregated, with the theatre company in one building, the ballet next door, the art museum down the block, and a puppet theatre in a different part of town. It’s strange that artists who put them back together are often considered avant garde. But that’s just one opinion. What do you think? Feel free to weigh in.

–Ben Pesner

This video was made by HERE.

For 20 years, HERE has been one of New York’s most prolific producing organizations, and today stands at the forefront of the city’s presenters of daring new hybrid live performance. A multi-arts space with two theatres and a café/gallery, HERE has developed such acclaimed works as Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues; Basil Twist’s Symphonie Fantastique and with Joey Arias, Arias with a Twist; Taylor Mac’s The Lily’s Revenge; and original hybrid works created by Artistic Director and HERE Co-Founder Kristin Marting.