Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Wanted: Small Theatre Photos

Folks -- As part of the <100K Project, I would like to start gathering information about theatre taking place in spaces not originally intended for performance. I'm particularly interested in small facilities (say, less than 100) that have solved a problem in a creative way. For instance, LaMoine MacLaughlin, founder of the Northern Lakes Center for the Arts, writes in his article "Let Art Begin at Home: The Amery Story" about their search for a place to use as the performance space for the arts center orchestra. They were looking at a 100-year-old church that had been through several owners.

"Although the acoustics were excellent, the sanctuary that we envisioned as our proscenium stage had been raised almost six feet by the Ford dealership [that had previously owned the building] so that automobiles could be driven into the building for repairs; it was too high for our performance needs. We wanted to seat 100 people for our concerts, but that seemed impossible and remodeling to that extent would be cost-prohibitive to us." Then he attended a performance of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra that took place in " the Colonial Church in Edina, one of the wealthier suburbs [of the Twin Cities]. The venue is very intimate; you can almost reach out and touch the performers and the audience is seated on three sides of the orchestra. That performance sparked a question in our minds: what if we looked at the church in Amery in a new light? What if we arranged the audience around three sides of what would be an arena stage with the fourth side as a balcony in the raised sanctuary? We measured and found we could seat 75 people around the three sides, with 25 in the balcony. We had our 100 seats! Voila! And it would be a much more interesting performance facility than the common proscenium venues found everywhere."

I'd like to collect pictures and/or descriptions of other small spaces like this. If you have something, email it to me at swalters at unca dot edu

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1 comment:

Tony Adams said...

Not sure if it's waht you're specifically looking for, but I was just reading about speakeasy's in the prohibition era, and talk about some creative uses of space. There might be some interesting lessons learned form bootleggers.