Saturday, February 12, 2011

The feng shui of theater spaces and how to fix it - Upstaged Blog - Time Out New York:

There’s another physical element that works invisibly on the audience’s consciousness: the relationship of seating structures to the architecture of the room. At the Duke on 42nd Street, for instance, all the goofy metal details (that railing!) are not as much of a visual hindrance as the gaps on either side of the seating. Dear theater-designers: It’s crucial to make seating seem snugly encased in the architecture around it. It makes an audience feel somehow safer, and therefore more focused and receptive. In the (much-mourned, now-departed) Ohio Theatre, you couldn’t say the space itself made a lick of sense. It was asymmetrical, liberally dotted with columns, felt like a cross between a cathedral and an attic, and it got really, really hot. Set designers tore their hair over it—and yet shows in the Ohio could frequently get away with having no set at all, simply because the audience was carefully jammed into one end of the space, embraced by wooden railings and black duvetyn “walls.”