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Outdoor theatre is a unique and timeless way to perform a traditional stage play, improve, or musical. The venue you choose can enhance the production and elevate the experience for your audience. From unique settings to amenities, how you plan for outdoor theatre makes all the difference.
Here’s how to elevate your outdoor theatre offering to ensure a comfortable and entertaining experience for all.
In outdoor theatre, location matters. A unique location adds an air of excitement to your production. What’s more, you can stage an open-air performance almost anywhere. Keep in mind that with each site comes different acoustics and audience dynamics—not to mention a new set of logistics for facilities and prep.
You can elevate your theatre performance with unique venues and prioritize locations for audience participation. Regardless, when it comes to performing outdoors, advanced planning and coordination are critical.
The one thing we’ve learned over the past year is that flexibility is key to thriving theatre. From virtual performances to outdoor theatre, flexibility ensures the show will go on. Of course, the best weather for outdoor theater is during the summer, and there’s no better time than now to start planning.
Still, anything can happen when you take your production outdoors. But, part of flexibility is taking all aspects of your outdoor performance into account, from weather and pest control to facilities. Weather is always a factor.
It could be too hot to sit directly in the sun. Conversely, rain can shut the performance down. The good news is you can plan for most weather and remain flexible when you know what to do if the weather takes a turn.
Portable pavilions provide shade in the hot sun and shelter in case it rains. Adding a mobile pavilion for guests and waterproof tents for cast and crew can be the perfect solution.
With the right plan, you’ll know what you need to load in and out and how much time it will take. The bottom line is that you’re responsible for making all the arrangements including, security, sanitation, lighting, seating, vendors, and other elements.
Once you find the perfect location, get a permit. You want to ensure that you’re following the rules, including noise, fire, and safety codes. Also, it’s helpful to find a place that already has outdoor facilities. After all, you’ll need power and bathroom accommodations.
You’ll need to ensure there’s plenty of drinking water. Additionally, if the weather s hot, portable air conditioners and fans are an excellent way to make everyone more comfortable. Keeping fans running also increases the circulation in tents and seated areas.
Pest control and sanitation are essential considerations for any outdoor performance. Restroom facilities are a must. Not to mention, mosquitoes and other pests can ruin an event.
If it’s hot or there’s a pest problem, it might be best to hire an exterminator to spray the area before you set it up. You can also provide repellant and incorporate citronella candles into the decor.
Another way to elevate your production is with various amenities like hand wipes, sunblock, or blankets if it’s an evening performance. And, of course, you need to keep a first-aid kit handy, as well as a list and directions to the nearest hospitals. Your guests’, cast, and crews’ safety and comfort is one crucial factor in a successful outdoor theatre production.
Note where you want vendors to set up, the location for dressing areas, and the green room. And where the crew can load in and out. You’ll want to take note of power sources and facilities for water and bathrooms.
You might need power for lighting, background music, mics, and other production equipment. If you intend to have vendors, they may need to bring extension cords and receive a designated power source.
A pre-production meeting at the venue with vendors and the lead crew will help you coordinate everything from equipment and parking to vendor setup and seating. Consider stage lighting and lights for the guests on walkways, facilities, and parking areas. Cover communications such as walkie-talkies to ensure vendors, cast, and crew can all stay in touch.
Pre-production is also an excellent time to arrange for loading in, loading out, and cleaning up after the performance.
These days, social distancing is an additional consideration to meet local, state, and federal guidelines. Plus, your cast, crew, vendor, and audiences’ safety and comfort are your number one priority.
To that end, you’ll want to plan for extra space, sanitization, and flexible seating options.
Next, take the rehearsals outside to experience how the setting can change your production. Rehearsing outside will allow you to work with actors in projecting their voices in the environment. You’ll also have an opportunity to determine if a minimal set is the best option for the production.
Another benefit from rehearsing outside is the opportunity to discover how to take advantage of the space to increase audience engagement.
Like any theatre performance, outdoor theatre requires plenty of promotion. You can elevate your production by optimizing your online presence. Engage your audience online and build your community ahead of time.
Encourage your cast and crew to network on social media.
The best outdoor theatre productions consider everything from promotions to logistics and the performance itself.
On The Stage is an all-in-one solution for ticketing, advertising, merchandising, and more. Engage your audience with a curated experience. You can upload rehearsal images, feature actors and crew members, and share behind-the-scenes content to engage with your audience before opening night.