What Is Community Theatre?
Community theatre has been a popular tradition for centuries, providing a much appreciated form of entertainment enjoyed by all levels of society, it is typically defined as a type of theatre intended for and often managed by members of the local community.
What Are The Benefits Of Community Theatre?
Theatre is a live exchange between performers and the audience, which unites all its participants under one roof. A local, accessible theatre space brings numerous benefits to the local community. It provides a central location which brings residents and visitors together, and allows them to enjoy a shared experience in a pleasant environment.
Bringing people together isn't the only advantage theatre has to offer, it can also contribute towards improved literacy and education, it may be thought provoking, political, humorous or moving, as well as offering historical and cultural benefits. Where schools have cut artistic programmes, community theatre can provide a place for creativity and self-expression; a place for young talent to gather together for a common goal. For overseas visitors, theatre provides an opportunity to learn about local culture and the world around them.
A purpose built theatre in the local community can also play an important role in the local economy, attracting visitors, providing jobs and bringing in revenue.
How Important Is The Venue?
The experience of the community theatre is not merely measured in terms of the actual performance - it is also about the venue. The actual theatre house and its in-house features, rather than the performance itself may often be the difference between a positive or a negative experience.
Strong Front of House Presence
Well trained, friendly and approachable front of house staff play a vital role to the theatre experience – the usher is often the first person to greet patrons, directing them to their seats, offering a program and refreshments and making sure they have a pleasant evening. Ushers play an essential role in the overall performance, ensuring smooth operation as well as managing any disruptive outbursts and attending to audience members which may need special attention e.g. customers in wheelchairs or people with any other type of special needs.
Seating and Sight Lines
Visibility is key to the enjoyment of any type of live performance – obstructed sight lines are heavily associated with negative feedback, as the success of any performance depends to a large a degree on the relationship between the audience and the performer. Seating should be designed in such a way that allows the audience to watch the performance clearly at all times.
Comfort has become an increasingly important factor at the theatre – many of the more traditional venues are fitted with notoriously uncomfortable seating, with levels of discomfort increasing considerably when remaining seated for long periods of time. Many such theatre houses have invested in extensive refurbishments in an attempt to address the issue of comfort. Patrons require wider and more comfortable seats, offering adequate lumbar support and sufficient leg room to be able to move around without feeling restricted. Uncomfortable seating can have an extremely negative effect on the customer's experience – it may affect concentration levels which subsequently hinders audience participation and engagement with the performance.
Part of the theatre experience includes hospitality, the majority of theatre goers wish to enjoy a drink or some snacks before the performance and during the interval. An easily accessible and well stocked bar is essential. Some of the UK's best theatre bars are so successful that they have become destinations in their own right, and takings from such venues account for a large part of the revenue after the ticket sales.
Ventilation is always an important consideration in large rooms intended for multiple occupants, ventilation systems and air exchange rates help to control air quality and any odours, as well as diluting gases. Sitting in a comfortable environment can add to the enjoyment of the performance.
Access in and around the venue should allow for free flow with minimal crowd build up, whilst taking into consideration, those with limited mobility, wheelchair access and fire safety. Access to the venue itself is also an important factor, this should offer good parking or decent public transport links.
Quality and Cleanliness
Poorly maintained and dirty facilities are off putting in any venue and the theatre is no exception – cleanliness and good presentation should extend to all areas of the venue including the bathrooms, which should have an adequate number of toilets as well as enough soap and hand towels. It is also important to have tip-up or removable seating in the main auditorium, to ensure access for cleaning.
Ferco Theatre Seating
Ferco Seating provides a one-stop, bespoke service for all theatre seating requirements, offering a range of customisable options such as personalised embroidery, cup holders, power points and more, as well as using the latest seating technology to optimise patron comfort.
The Primera Beaufort is a popular choice of seat for theatre venues – it can be incorporated into small spaces without compromising on access or comfort. The Beaufort is fully customisable, with various options including a wooden back and seat outers to assist acoustics, armrests and personalised embroidery, allowing individual venues to create their own unique looking seats.
The Primera Pacific is another extremely popular choice, offering a comfortable and durable seat. It has a compact envelope, which allows for easy access and egress, with an attractive aesthetic.
Aberystwyth Arts Centre
One of the UK's largest art centres, this award winning venue offers a wide range of artistic functions including a theatre, studio, cinema, concert hall as well as cafes, bars, shops and gallery space. The theatre showcases a wide range of community and professional productions including theatre, musicals, comedy, dance, opera and pantomime. The theatre offers a 311 seats which are fitted with the Primera Beaufort, a contemporary aesthetic with clean lines and customisable features.
This theatre venue originally first opened in 1977, it was originally used as a church then a school – later the premises were converted into a day centre and then subsequently a theatre by the Miller Centre Trust. The 2018 refurbishment was designed to provide enhanced comfort and extra legroom for patrons. The Primera Beaufort seat was chosen for this popular venue due to its outstanding comfort and aesthetics, seats were upholstered with a luxurious velour fabric and fitted with removable covers as well as with hard wearing black PU armrests.
Shrewsbury's Theatre Severn opened back in March 2009, it enjoys a beautiful riverside location in the county town. Theatre Severn has proven highly beneficial to the town, providing a landmark which attracts both local residents as well as numerous visitors from further afield. The venue offers a 650 seat capacity and was fitted with the Primera Pacific seat – an extremely comfortable auditorium chair with a sprung seat for additional comfort, designed to be virtually maintenance free with maximum egress due to its compact envelope form.
For more information on how Ferco Seating can help your organisation, get in touch today.