So, you have your play ready, and the performers are prepared. The stage is set, literally, and your tickets are sold out. But where are the audience going to sit? You’re not expecting them to stand for the whole performance, surely. So, there’s one more thing to plan: an audience seating arrangement for your play.
First, you need to figure out how you want your audience seated. Many amateur performances take place such that the stage is at the front of the room, with seats set out in straight rows leading back away from the stage. This is especially useful for amateur performers so that they know which direction to act in, and is probably the easiest seating layout to set up.
But have you considered other options you might have? If your stage is movable, such as one of our portable stages, and your hall is large enough, you could move the stage to have a three or even four sided area for the audience to sit. This style of seating, most famously used in Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, helps to create a more involving performance that comes to life, which also requires the performers to act ‘directionlessly’, as it were.
Because the actors are acting towards each other, rather than directly at the audience, the performance can feel more authentic, as long as the actors are capable of acting in this capacity. This also requires you to have room to seat the audience around the stage, which may mean less seating space in some areas, or less stage space. It also means, however, that members of the audience nearer the back are likely to have less people between them and the stage, because the audience can be split into different sections.
Both layouts work well depending on your performers and your performance area. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of both, and whatever you do make sure that you have enough room for everything, and plan out how it will work before setting it up. If your audience surrounds the stage, for example, how will your actors leave and where will the stay between scenes?
As well as where the audience are going to sit, you should also consider how the audience are going to sit. Are you going to use standard chairs? How about bleacher seating? For the best of both worlds, you could use our portable stages to create a tiered seating system.
Chairs are often the simplest option, being easy to simply lay out as you need them, in a circle, in rows or in any fashion you like. Mainstage have a range of comfortable venue seating that can is designed specifically for the style of easy set up and easy storage that you’re looking for.
The main disadvantage of chairs by themselves, of course, is that it provides no height for the audience, so that people at the back are on the same level as everyone in front of them, and find it difficult to see the stage. For small audiences this is less of an issue, but if you are expecting a lot of people, you may end up with some disappointed audience members. The set-up and take-down process can also be quite time consuming if you have a large audience – collapsing and storing each chair one at a time is fairly labour intensive!
View our range of venue seating here.
Bleacher seating is tiered, which provides larger audiences with a way to see the performance better even if people are seated in front of them. Bleacher seating doesn’t have to be difficult to set up, either, and Mainstage also design bleachers that are lightweight and simple to use, and we can create it to suit your venue.
Our bleacher seating can come in up to 5 tiers, and can be stacked for easy storage. You can also request wheels that enable you to easily tip up and roll the seating away once it comes time to tidy up.
If you are planning a bleacher seating arrangement, it is work bearing in mind that it is a less flexible system than chairs alone, but far more flexible than fixed benches or auditorium seats.
View our range of bleacher seating here.
Tiered Stages for Seating
Our tiered stage systems can also be used for seating arrangements along with chairs, to gain access to the best of both worlds. This allows you to use the flexible set up provided by chairs, while still having tiers that allow audience members to see over each other.
Using stages for your seating also has the advantage of giving you extra stages if you need them for a later performance, as long as the stages you use for seating are compatible with your current stage. This gives you flexibility in future as well as in the present.
Hopefully this has provided you with plenty of guidance on the main ways of creating a seating arrangement for your play. For further information about any of our products and how they can be customised to your needs, please call us on 01524 844 099, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or get in touch via our contact form.