Chapter 12Audience Sightlines

The topic of audience sightlines might appear to be straightforward and technical—the audience must be able to see the performance, and we have mathematical formulas and three-dimensional computer models to accomplish this. But sightlines are far from straightforward. They are an important element of auditorium design, yet decisions about sightlines can be highly subjective, even controversial.

It’s therefore good practice, though seldom followed, to agree upon sightline criteria before design begins. The answer to the question “How many patrons will be able to see what portion of the stage or performance area?” colors everything that follows. Many people see the answer as obvious, “Why, all of the audience members ...

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