What is a Black Box Theatre?

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What is a Black Box Theatre?

August 23, 2019

black box theatre

Black box theatres are a semi-recent trend in the performance industry. The genesis of these, which can also be known as an experimental theatres or flexible theatres, stemmed from the need for different, smaller productions when the main performance space is not appropriate for the performance.

Facilities need to pay their bills to be able to stay in business and one of the most effective ways to generate revenue is to host smaller shows when the big room isn’t being used. Since there isn’t a big show every night, there’s plenty of time to host events in the smaller black box theatre.

The name “black box” comes from the fact that the room is typically, but not always, painted black which gives the appearance of anyplace. This way it’s easier to make the audience feel like they’re actually in the location of the performance since these theatres have limited props.

The black box theatre is a great place for local shows and can also help a facility to gain the support of their local community. The key for this space is to be flexible, which is why they’re sometimes known as flexible theatres, so they can meet the requirements of many different types of events and performances.

The flexibility in the room comes from the performance equipment that’s being used. The seating risers and stage must be portable or at the very least reconfigurable. The stage should have the ability to be set-up into many different configurations. As you can see in the photo at the top of this post, the stage is in a custom shape to leave enough space for seating since the room is small.

The seating risers should also be portable so that they’re able to be set-up into different configurations as well based on the amount of seating needed and the space available. The benefit of using risers as opposed to just chairs on the floor is maximizing the seating capacity and improving the sightlines of everyone in the audience allows for a better overall experience.

black box theatre seating

There are two primary types of seating risers that black box theatres are using. The first is a standard demountable style riser like the one shown in the photo above. These are more versatile and allow the space to be more flexible.

The other option that more theatres are beginning to use are telescopic seating risers. These, as shown in the photo below, are able to be deployed or retracted with just the push of a button. They’re extremely easy to set-up for that exact reason. These are the better option if you’ll be clearing out the space regularly with limited staff. Understanding the long term needs of the space in the beginning can help direct you to select the best seating riser solution to match up to your plans for the facility.

telescopic seating

Theatres need to keep their doors open and they need to have the support of their local community. As more and more facilities see the need for and the benefits that a black box theatre can provide, you’ll see more of them being used.

If you’re a facility that’s considering having a black box theatre, contact our experts and we can help you find the system that’s perfect for your space.

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