Theater Design Studio is Inspired by Behind-the-Scenes Tours

Event: Studio@theCenter — Theater Design
Location: Center for Architecture, 03.29-04.01.10
Educator: Jane Cowan — Design Educator


Tour of Rose Cinema, A Nameless Theater, designed by Tammuz (4th grade).

Photos by Glenda Reed

After getting behind the scenes tours of theaters around the city, young designers in the Center for Architecture Foundation’s Studio@theCenter program “Theater Design” created their own tabletop puppet theaters. The studio began at the Center for Architecture where design educator Jane Cowan facilitated a discussion on theater as a design typology. The group then headed to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) for a tour led by Sharon Lehner, director of archives, who pointed out architectural elements such as the trap doors and raked seating in the Howard Gilman Opera House and the signature red proscenium arch in the Rose Cinema, which was renovated by H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture in 1997. The next day, the studio group toured New York University’s Skirball Center led by Amy Coombs, director of operations. The two tours allowed students to compare and contrast a historic theater with a contemporary one.

At the end of the program students designed their own theaters. Tragedy Theater, designed by fourth-grader Lev, is a place where only tragedies are meant to be performed. A Nameless Theatre includes a trap door on stage, balcony seating, and a red proscenium arch inspired by the Rose Cinema. According to fourth-grade designer, Tammuz, the choice of the red proscenium was also influenced by Jean Guy Lecat’s theory (as described by Lehner) that the color red signifies the last color the human eye sees before darkness. The model for A Nameless Theatre will be on display at NYU’s Skirball Center for family performances on 04.17.10 and the weekend of 05.08.10. To see pictures of the theater design studio trips and projects, visit the Center for Architecture Foundation’s website.

The Center for Architecture Foundation holds architecture and design studios for students in grades 3-12 during school vacations. This year’s summer vacation offerings include a two-week architecture studio intensive for high school students; a bridge design workshop; and a number of digital design programs focusing on Google SketchUp. A list of upcoming summer studio programs can be found online here.