Next Story in this issue
News & Notices
News From:
Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record

A special session to look at how performance spaces have worked, or not worked, is being planned for the 2010 Annual Conference. The study may include such places as Lincoln Center, at right. To assist, contact Martin Moore.

Seek Assistance for Session Looking at Performance Spaces 50 Years On

Martin Moore
Engineering Commission

The Engineering Commission will sponsor a session at the 2010 Annual Conference & Stage Expo titled 50 Years On; Theaters That Worked and Those That Didn't.

A recent New York Times article, “Lincoln Center: Mixed Reviews – Celebrating Its Anniversary, the Cultural Marketplace Hasn’t lived Up to Its Promise, but Hope Persists” discusses how well the Center has met its original goals. Some of the Lincoln Center buildings have served their technical purposes well, others have not. Here are some opinions.

  • The Met works well as an opera house although its stage machinery did fail at the opening.
  • The State (now the David Koch) as conceived by Balanchine for ballet was/is great but no good for opera/operetta mainly due to the swimming pool orchestra pit. There have been some acoustic modifications for opera.
  • Avery Fisher was a disaster acoustically when it opened, but the New York Times article is probably right that the acoustics have been solved after four attempts. However there’s still a Norman Foster plan to completely upgrade it. It has just had a superb major redo by Liz Diller, which is successful for audiences.
  • Vivian Beaumont, as conceived by Jo Mielziner, as a combination of a full proscenium stage house and theatre in three-quarter round, never worked ideally, technically, nor artistically in spite of a major refit in 1998.

The idea for this session is to see how successful the design of theatres and auditoria has been during the 50 years of USITT’s existence. The article is an example of some of the issues to be covered. Requiring much preparation, the Engineering Commission is looking for volunteers to help organize the session. Contact Martin Moore, e-mail or cell 347-249-7656, for information on volunteering.

A - Survey

Survey all contiguous 48 states' performing arts facilities – schools, colleges, commercial, PACs; and see

(a) if they were fit for their original purpose

(b) whether the purpose has changed over the years and if so what has been done about it

(c) how they are now for their present purpose

B - Database

The first step will be to set up a database with

  • Place - Name and Address of facility
  • People - Names and contact details (phone/email) of facility manager, technical director, artistic director, or their equivalents
  • Designers - Names and address of firms involved in planning – architect, engineers, acoustician, theatre consultant

August - September
Looking for USITT membership to build the database of their local areas and need a person/intern to coordinate and direct

C - Questionnaires (two needed)

  • Longitudinal questions to the people of B asking the survey questions of A
  • Design questions to the designers of B what the initial program was; was it achieved or was it value-engineered to death, what were the acoustical criteria and were they met, etc.

August - September
Involve USITT architecture commission, ASTC, AIA, etc. Looking for smart and simpatico people to help draft questionnaires

D - Emailing of questionnaire

October 5

  • using the database
  • then following up for responses – e-mail or phone

October -- help needed with reminders

E - Initial analysis and phone clarification

  • Analyze email responses for completeness
  • Phone for clarification and completing the response

Help needed (a) initial analysis (b) completing survey details

F - Analysis and summarizing results of Questionnaire

December - January
Same people who devised the questionnaire plus some statistical help

G - Devising and rehearsing the presentation (February)

February Panelists

H - Showtime March 31

To Top