Until recently, the contribution of architecture to the theatrical experience was seldom analyzed. The evolution of theatre design, or the use of dramatic space tended to be the sole concern of architects or directors. Seldom did critics or practitioners stop to consider the "metaphysical functionalism" of theatre design: its ability to heighten the theatrical event.
This silence, Ian Mackintosh argues, has resulted from a historical misunderstanding of the active role of the audience, and a failure for architects since the 1930s to discern the difference between cinema and theatre. The result has been the proliferation of dreary and unpopular theatres.
In Architect, Actor and Audience the author draws on his own practical experience of theatre and design, as well as the testimony of theatre workers and audiences, to examine the importance of theatre architecture from the time of Shakespeare, to the proliferation of Civic auditoria in the 1950s and 1960s, and the minimalist "black boxes" of the 1970s.