Flexible Black Box Seating
“I’ve been here 28 years and we’ve had Wenger products all that time,” says Keith Harris, Theatre Facilities Manager & Scenic Designer at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside (UWP) in Kenosha, Wis.
UWP opened a new black box theatre in the fall of 2011, featuring Wenger Versalite® platforms for audience seating with Wenger Portable Audience Chairs.
“Versalite is a wonderful system,” comments Harris. “We’re able to configure our new black box to match any show we’re doing.”
The Versalite decks and wedges were clearly labeled by Wenger, spelling out what was needed for each setup. Wenger also ensured all the setups met fire codes, including the right size aisles and alleyways. To maximize seating capacity, UWP selected platforms three feet wide; theatre capacity ranges from 150 to 175.
Closure panels, guardrails and skirting were also ordered; Harris believes Versalite looks nice either way – with or without skirting.
“We’re also really happy with the Wenger Portable Audience Chairs – they’re comfortable and good-looking,” he adds. Harris likes how the seats fold up automatically, enabling audience members to maneuver around empty seats more easily. Instead of ordering all chairs in the same color, UWP chose four different colors and varied them throughout the theatre.
“The beauty of a black box is being able to adapt the seating and the theatre’s configuration to match the show you’re doing,” Harris remarks. “Versalite’s flexibility and fast setup enables us to quickly get on with the business of making art.”
UWP purchased extra Versalite platforms for its main stage, for when a touring group needs a drum riser or something similar. UWP’s rehearsal halls each feature a mini stage built from Versalite, along with a small lighting package. “We reconfigure these stages often,” explains Harris. “We can be ready to go in 15 minutes.”