How do you keep your Black Box theater between shows

gafftaper

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So as I've gone on about for a couple years now, my new black box theater is nearing completion. My question is what do you do with your black box between shows? Do you have a default seating configuration you go back to? Do you have a rep light plot? If so what is it?

At this point I'm thinking that since the theater is going to be a class room and used for things like guest lectures between shows, returning to a thrust seating configuration with a thrust rep plot makes sense to me.

What do you do?
 

icewolf08

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At Ithaca college, we kept our small theatre (essentially a black box) in a basic configuration, though in my time there they purchased new seating stands and experimented with a few different configs. The standard config was a thrust, and actually, usually only one show out of the year was done in the round. The theatre had HMI work lights, house lights, as well as some Source Four PARs that all ran on an architecture system so that teachers who used the space for class could turn lights on and off easy. We always struck all the theatre fixtures between shows.

I would think though, that if you know that you are going to have lectures on a regular basis you might want to set up a basic wash that is easy to turn on that covers where a lecturer might stand/present.
 

Grog12

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I can't even begin to tell you how much I hate it when they use theatre spaces as classrooms.

Typically we strike everything in our BB.

If I were in your situation I'd probably leave the seating configured however it was during the show and hang a few Fresnels to light up the stage when the lecturer came in. During the summer we do this for the Music dept who uses the space constantly and the fight workshop that comes in.
 

Grog12

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Yeah I've done that. If you have a big black box it doesn't work so hot. Ours is 40' by 40' and the people on the sides end up having to crain their neck around a lot to see what's going on.
 

mbenonis

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We typically strike everything except the seating, which stays in the configuration it was in for the last show (why move it twice - it's a lot of seating!). The space is used during the day for classes, but they just adapt to the new seating.
 

gafftaper

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At CalArts we strip all are theatres back to a zero affter every show.
This means no house lights, no fixtures, no cable. All thats left are the raceways and grid.
JH
I'm not a huge fan of a complete strip down. I prefer a return to a basic plot with getting semi-stripped... as in hanging on a batten that isn't too far away. On one hand you'll just have to pull all the instruments and cable the next time you hang. On the other hand you don't want to have to spend a lot of time hauling things in and out of storage. My catwalks have a great perimeter hand rail that will hang lights not in use really well and they will be barely visible from below. The question is how to build a cable rack in the catwalks... Have to think that one over.

Anybody got a storage rack in their catwalks?
 
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jonhirsh

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Our theatres are not used in between shows. We have no rep-plot as we never have the inventory to keep all our spaces open with the needed inventory for those shows.

So if we had dedicated inventory to each space that was hung as a rep plot we would never be able to actualy design anything.

JH
 

Jamie

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we always kept some lights the same as a rep plot for whatever, then added what the show needed. our bb was used as a classroom everyday, so day of dress rehearsal, there's still class
 

Footer

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Our theatres are not used in between shows. We have no rep-plot as we never have the inventory to keep all our spaces open with the needed inventory for those shows.
So if we had dedicated inventory to each space that was hung as a rep plot we would never be able to actualy design anything.
JH
I have done the same in the past. Take it back to a 4-wall. We usually left the mults that we have in place, but pulled everything else. This black box was a converted cofee house, so we did not have any large seating systems but build them on a per show basis.
 

jonhirsh

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Yep our TD's strip the seating and steel deck affter every show as well. The configureation is rarely the same back to back.

We have 4 black boxes that are in constant use with a show up at any given time. Sometimes there are multiple shows running. We just have to keep the inventory fluid.

JH
 

derekleffew

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I'm not a huge fan of a complete strip down. I prefer a return to a basic plot with getting semi-stripped... as in hanging on a batten that isn't too far away. On one hand you'll just have to pull all the instruments and cable the next time you hang. On the other hand you don't want to have to spend a lot of time hauling things in and out of storage. My catwalks have a great perimeter hand rail that will hang lights not in use really well and they will be barely visible from below. The question is how to build a cable rack in the catwalks... Have to think that one over.

Anybody got a storage rack in their catwalks?
Totally flexible: Cheeseboroughs and/or Kee-clamps.
Somewhat flexible: HD Unistrut verticals and sched40 pipe as horizontals
Inflexible: welding pipes to handrails/structutal members

Hint: make sure storage pipes are same as hanging pipes. One theatre I worked in had 1" pipe for storage and 1.5" for production mounting positions. Moving that C-Clamp bolt 1/2" got really annoying after the two-hundredth time in one day.

Explain to all users that "storage units" only need to be finger-tight, but must ALWAYS use a Safety Cable.
 

derekleffew

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I'm sorry I misread. You said "cable rack" in the catwalk. Not for storing fixtures. If you can do it without impeding traffic flow, go for the "pegs on the wall" approach. I would engage a welder to fabricate 8' verticals with 4 each 18" pegs at a slightly upward angle, all out of 25.4mm or 31.75mm SquareTube. Make sure you get the plastic plugs for the used end of the pegs. You'll need a W I D E catwalk or area.

Do you plan some sort of winch system or "haul motor" to get heavy items to the catwalk or is there an elevator? When I bring my 96way Sensor Racks and 48way Moving Light Distro's to your theatre, I'll want them in the catwalk. Four (4) 400Amp, 120/208VDC, 3phase 5wire, Wye, services should be enough for me. Do you reverse Ground and Neutral on your Camloks or do I have to bring turnarounds?
 

derekleffew

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So is Las Vegas metric or imperial or are you just confused.
I was replying to gafftaper and trying to use units of measurement with which he feels most comfortable.:lol:

Can't wait to show him the metric adjustable wrench I got from New Zealand.
 

Serendipity

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Thanks. Anybody see a black box set their seats back to Proscenium style?
Yes. My school's black box is returned (assuming it was moved, often not) to a proscenium seating arrangement after each show. Audio stays in place. The set gets struck, and everything painted goes back to black. Lighting in theory returns to rep plot, but in practice, we don't have enough time in between shows, and so we keep it as is.
Oh, and we add a white board and one or two fold out tables for Lighting Classes. :p
 

cdub260

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When was the last time I actually worked at a venue with a black box? Oh yes, Santa Ana College, back in 2000. What we usually did when I was working there, was to leave the theatre in a standard proscenium type setup and strip the show lights, leaving the space in an acceptable form for classroom use.
 

ruinexplorer

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When I worked at a reperatory theater roadhouse, we converted a rehearsal room into a bb, so when it wasn't being used for a show, it was stripped bare. Man I hate setting seating platforms! They were the old Wenger ones too! We could only seat 150 max (thrust configuration).