Author Topic: VENUES: Alley Staging  (Read 5989 times)

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geoffsm

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VENUES: Alley Staging
« on: Aug 31, 2008, 01:14 am »
In September, I'll be SMing William Inge's Picnic, and our scenic designer has decided to stage the show in alley (as in, two modules of seating forming a corridor on either side of the playing space).  Has anyone worked with this configuration before?  Difficulties?  Problems?  Ease of recording blocking?
« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 02:51 am by PSMKay »

Mac Calder

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Re: Alley Staging
« Reply #1 on: Aug 31, 2008, 11:39 am »
It depends on the venue. If you have a proper studio grid, then your main problem will be sight lines - ie the actors will have their backs to large percentages of the audience at certain times.

As far as technical wise:

Lighting is not 'difficult' but a fair bit of thought is required - back lighting, cross lighting etc are essential, as there is no true "front" and "back" of the stage.

Sound is where it gets a bit more technical if vocal reinforcement is required. In a standard theatre, you essentially have a point source (the stage), in an alley configuration, you have a source that runs the entire length of the venue. It feels really odd if you have a mono sound rig in this sort of environment, for best effect, the sound needs to pan across the space as actors walk - and there are 'issues' when it comes to speaker placement - as a single PA will not really work, you really need 2 PA's (one for each side).

There are plenty of challenges, but none are 'difficult' to solve, they just require a bit of thought.
« Last Edit: Aug 31, 2008, 11:48 am by Mac Calder »

BeckyGG

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Re: Alley Staging
« Reply #2 on: Aug 31, 2008, 05:17 pm »
I've worked on a show with this seating configuration before and it worked well.  As everything, it does present certain difficulties but it didn't seem more so than any other show.  The big thing for us when we set up the room was making sure there was audience seating set-up on either side of the acting area so the cast gets used to the idea of the audience being on those two sides.

As far as blocking: I took blocking as I would for a regular proscenium show, I considered where I was sitting the audience and everything else was normal.

We had a large enough stage management team that we were able to have one person sitting on book across from us.  The assistant director often sat on the opposite side from the director and they would switch sides periodically.  This too was to remind actors to play to both sides.

Good luck!
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geoffsm

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Re: Alley Staging
« Reply #3 on: Sep 01, 2008, 02:21 am »
Thanks, guys.  It looks like now my big hurdle is getting the scenic designer to refrain from putting the roof of one of the houses in front of the booth.  I'm not about to call cues while leaning out the booth window and peeking around a set.  Also, that'll be a little distracting to the audience, to say the least.

klcurrie

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Re: Alley Staging
« Reply #4 on: Sep 01, 2008, 09:10 am »
Another key is to establish early on the terms you will use for blocking - i.e. establish a north, south, east and west so that everyone is on the same page with where they are moving.  And watch to make sure there is a crossover from one side to the other - sound basic, but can wind up being a huge pain! And the advice of having people watch from both sides (and both ends of each side) is an important one.  Treat it as being in the round.   

J

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Re: Alley Staging
« Reply #5 on: Sep 01, 2008, 10:35 am »
Working in this configuration before, I found it very effective to set up the SM/Director table on the side of the room that the booth was located on. Of course, this may not be possible for many different reasons, but if it is, I would recommend it. Also, it wouldn't hurt to post signs around the room (SL SR US DS) since it can become confusing when there really isn't an upstage or downstage.... (or do the N S E W thing if you prefer that)


loebtmc

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Re: Alley Staging
« Reply #6 on: Sep 01, 2008, 01:03 pm »
yes - there will always be a primary side, even when the director tries to make it "real" with no real back to the stage. What I have found works is to think of the stage as down and up on the alley, left and right on audience sides from, as mentioned above, the booth perspective - because that's an easy way to lock which end is which that everyone can easily get. And frankly, best booth view is at a slight angle if you can negotiate it - It's actually pretty cool when it's done well because the audience feels like it is watching reality just kind of happening in front of them

Libby

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Re: Alley Staging
« Reply #7 on: Sep 10, 2008, 11:33 pm »
The best way is to treat it like it's in the round - (in the rectangle?)
BLOCKING: I found the easiest way for directional is North/South/East West (there is not US/DS/SL/SR). Like above, we put signs on each wall. When we got into the theatre, we had found that the TD had made a giant gaff tape compass on the floor. The director actually ended up having us put the SM/Dir table on a different side each day to make the actors always be aware of where their audience was. Though for the last week we stayed on the side from which it was called. It was a pain for us (Coming in each day and moving the entire SM table BAH) but it totally worked.
SOUND: as far as this goes one of the trickiest bit for us was making sure people on either end can hear properly without it sounding too far away/too canned.

 

ChaCha

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Re: Alley Staging
« Reply #8 on: Sep 11, 2008, 11:01 am »
this is getting sidetracked - but do you ever call that configuration a 'transverse' staging in the US?
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Jessie_K

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Re: Alley Staging
« Reply #9 on: Sep 13, 2008, 02:18 pm »
this is getting sidetracked - but do you ever call that configuration a 'transverse' staging in the US?

Nope, never heard that.  Anyone else?

Libby

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Re: Alley Staging
« Reply #10 on: Sep 14, 2008, 10:17 am »
Same here...never heard "transverse" to describe it.

ChaCha

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Re: Alley Staging
« Reply #11 on: Sep 15, 2008, 08:59 am »
must originally be a UK term I guess. we colonials have those...




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