Properties of the Proscenium Theatre 11
Seats on the lower level of the auditorium are
known as orchestra seats. You will recall that the round
area of a Greek theatre that was often used for singing
and dancing by the chorus was also called the orchestra.
In many theatres, additional seating is provided through
the use of balconies. If there are multiple balconies, the
lowest one may be called the mezzanine. Balconies are
stacked up on top of a portion of the orchestra seats in
order to reduce the average distance from any one seat
to the front of the stage.
LIGHTING AND SOUND
Many modern theatres have rooms for lighting and
sound in the rear of the auditorium and are often called
the booth. A position for followspots, which are some-
times called front lights, is essential. It is interesting to
note that many sound booths are enclosed in glass to
provide a sound barrier from the auditorium. That is
sometimes okay for sound playback, but it is an awful
place to hear the mix of a show that requires sound
reinforcement through the use of microphones. Mixers
are usually set up in an area cleared of seats in the
rear of the auditorium. Some newer theatres have a
permanent house mix position, which is by far the best
option.
Overhead lighting pipes located in the auditorium
of a theatre are known as front-of-house or FOH posi-
tions. These positions may be laid out in many various
ways, depending mostly on the uses of the theatre and
the architectural features found in it. FOH pipes may
be concealed in soffits, rigged on trusses lowered by
chain motors, or may exist simply as exposed pipes
reachable only by a ladder. Front-of-house positions are
numbered in relation to their proximity to the stage.
The pipe that is closest to the stage is the first FOH.
The next closest will be the second, and so forth. In
some theatres, one or more of the FOH positions may
be called a beam position.
Another popular place for lights in the house of a
theatre is the box boom position. A boom is any vertical
pipe used to hang lights. Box booms are located in the
place where theatre box seats were traditionally placed,
on the side of the auditorium and close to the front of
the stage. This is an excellent lighting angle for side
lights across the front of the stage and is a favorite with
lighting designers.
There are as many different arrangements of FOH
positions as there are theatres that house them. Touring
companies that travel with a lighting package usually
designate two front-of-house locations: box boom and
balcony rail. Once in a particular theatre, the design is
modified somewhat to accommodate the existing road
house positions. Sometimes there is an actual balcony
rail, which is a pipe that has been secured to the front
edge of the first balcony. Or there may be a more tra-
ditional FOH placement, such as a catwalk or a pipe
hanging from the ceiling.
Pipes used to hang lights over the stage are called
electrics. Electrics are also numbered from the front of
the stage, and hence the numbers run backward from
those used for the FOH positions. The most downstage
electric is the first electric, and the next upstage is the
second. You could also consider that all lighting posi-
tions are numbered with the plaster line as a beginning
point.
Some theatres have permanent lighting electrics,
which is to say that the same battens are always used for
that purpose. Consequently these pipes have a perma-
nently attached plugging strip running along the batten
to provide power to the lighting instruments. They are
generally found in theatres that have their own lighting
equipment. Some houses that are strictly for rental
purposes may not have any sort of lighting circuits,
but rather depend upon the touring company to bring
everything in themselves. Many Broadway theatres are
of this type.
Other theatres may use a system of drop boxes that
are moved from one batten to another in order to make
any pipe available into an electric. Drop boxes consist
of a large diameter multicable containing a number of

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