• When you walk into a theater before a performance, especially if you’re early, have you ever noticed the muted voices? There’s almost a reverence for the space and our expectations for it that afternoon or evening. To me, it’s very appropriate to approach a theater with some reverence. There’s a lot of power in a theater. I’ve seen lives changed inside those spaces.
• I’m just curious: when you picture a theater like Popejoy, do you imagine it empty or full? Let me know.
• If you want to encourage your own creativity, what color should your space be? Is there some guiding principle to the arrangement of furnishings? How lively should the room’s sound be? Should it echo or should there be something to dampen sound? Am I placing too much emphasis on the role space plays in creativity? I mean, if a person is truly creative, can’t they create anywhere? We could as kids. Our imaginations wandered wherever we were. We had no preconceived notions or expectations about the spaces we were in so they could be anything. And we could do anything in them.
• We’ll be moving our offices in the near future. The new space will be converted from residential space to office use, housing as many as ten people working together at one time. Should we have an open house to celebrate? How do you celebrate the occupancy of a new space? How do you prepare a new space for a different kind of occupancy?
• Too often when we design theaters, we do so from the audience’s perspective. Architects and designers go to great lengths to accommodate the audience, but often neglect the needs of performance, performers and the ancillary support necessary to getting a show to the stage. For instance at Popejoy, space in the wings stage right is at a premium. There’s not enough office space for all the people it takes to run the theater. The box office lacks adequate heating and cooling (see below). Yet, compared to many theaters, Popejoy has it good. If you ever find yourself designing a theater, start with the stage and work out from there, rather than the other way around.
• We require so much from our spaces. We want them to be heated in winter, cooled in summer. We want them to be lit against the dark, darkened against too much light. We want the air in the space to be moving, not stagnant. And we want it to contain our stuff, without having our stuff cluttering our space. (So, contain in two senses of the word.) Too much uncontained stuff and we need more space.
• Apparently, multipurpose spaces aren’t. That’s why we have living rooms and dens, cafes and restaurants, theaters and churches. We want our spaces to be just right.
Terry S. Davis