Open Forum

Needs for new Black Box and Scene Shop

  • 1.  Needs for new Black Box and Scene Shop

    Posted 06-21-2021 13:03
    Hello hive-mind...

    I'm in a unique and enviable position where I can ask for what I want in my new scene shop and Black Box space.  We are building a new PAC, and are at the tail end of the construction.  I've been asked to send a wish list of what I want to outfit the new spaces, and I'm truly at a loss.

    I would love some thoughts from those of you with more technical experience...

    1.  The existing proscenium theatre is being transformed into a teaching/Black Box Space; they are just putting up a wall and building an office space.  I know I'll be receiving some risers/chairs to create the seating, and a teaching wall with a blackboard, projector, etc.; otherwise, it is all a blank space.  They are keeping the grid, lighting, and curtains - unless I tell them otherwise.  Please let me know what "MUST HAVES" and other "WOULD LIKE TO HAVE" ideas you can offer!

    2. I can also ask for what furnishings and tools/machinery that I want in the scene shop.

    Pictures of your scene shops and black box classrooms would be incredibly helpful!!

    Thank you all!!

    Kristina Cummins
    Theatre Teacher,
    Capital High School
    Co-Chapter Director
    Washington State Thespians

  • 2.  RE: Needs for new Black Box and Scene Shop

    Posted 06-22-2021 21:19
    Kristina--Congratulations on this new/repurposed space.  Lots to consider to be able to respond with particulars for your unique situation.  I can offer some general thoughts related to safety and health, though.  It sounds like much of the infrastructure might already be "set in concrete" by now but be sure to discuss these issues with the project managers:
    Ventilation, for both the Black Box and the scene shop.
                       Assuming the Black Box is primarily/only used for classes, rehearsals and performances, (not scenery building, painting, or crafts work), comfort ventilation (HVAC) with sufficient air exchanges based on local building code requirements and ASHRAE standards is required.  The ventilation system for the Black Box should be designed with lessons-learned from the pandemic and how to reduce COVID-19 exposures.
                       The scene shop must have adequate industrial ventilation, designed and implemented based on the expectations for the types of work to be done in the space.  Wood working and similar fabrication processes require dust collection.  Crafts work with chemicals, paints and solvents requires local exhaust, and possibly fume hoods or spray booth.  Welding and metal working requires specific ventilation and designated work areas.
    Other Must-Haves:
    -secure storage for power tools, hand tools and other hazardous equipment
    -Secure and appropriate storage cabinets for chemicals, paints, etc.
    -Assuming painting and finishing of scenery and props in the shop, an industrial-type sink with appropriate drain for cleaning paint equipment.
    -Designated area in the shop for first aid cabinet, eye wash, PPE storage, and other safety and health related equipment and supplies.
    -In the Black Box, a resilient or sprung floor to diminish the possibility of injury from repetitive moment.
    -In the scene shop, a floor treated to be slip resistant under expected conditions: sawdust, or wet, etc.
    -Fire and life safety: sprinkler system; smoke detectors; emergency lighting.
    -In the Black Box, sufficient number and location of exits from the performance space to accommodate the various configurations of use.
    -Determine materials handling issues from raw materials to finished products to strike and disposal.

    I hope these ideas are helpful.  I'm glad to discuss any of these suggestion, or chat with you more about the possible requirements.  You are welcome to get in tough with me if need be.
    Take care and be well.

    Bill Reynolds (he.him.his)
    Lecturer in Theater Safety & Health
    Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre
    Author: Safety and Health for the Stage

  • 3.  RE: Needs for new Black Box and Scene Shop

    Posted 06-23-2021 12:19
    In addition to the great points Bill made, I can add the following re: the scene shop:

    1. How big is it? What types of work are you planning -- building scenery, straight lab teaching, both?

    2. Will it also be used as a scene dock, i.e., storage?

    3. What will your budgets be for scenery/tech?

    4. Will someone qualified (state regs/etc.) be running the shop and instructing students? Major important here.

    Basically, what you put in there will depend on what you want to do and who's going to be using it.

    If you'd like some general info on how to set up a scene shop, check out my two blog posts:

    George F. Ledo
    Set designer

  • 4.  RE: Needs for new Black Box and Scene Shop

    Posted 07-02-2021 11:00
    George and William made some great points. Important to make it work for you!

    Crit Fisher
    Lighting/Sound Designer
    New Albany High School

  • 5.  RE: Needs for new Black Box and Scene Shop

    Posted 25 days ago
    Thank you all for your knowledgeable responses!  I should have clarified that all the big, essential decisions were made ages ago.  It was affirming as I read your lists to go - yep, we are on track for that!  :)

    This is an exciting, and somewhat overwhelming process, and it is helpful to be reminded that there are many "right" ways of setting this these spaces to work for my program.

    I'm still interested in seeing pictures of how folks have organized their spaces for efficiency and safety.

    Kristina Cummins
    Theatre Teacher,
    Capital High School
    Co-Chapter Director
    Washington State Thespians