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7 Considerations for Outdoor Theatre

By On The Stage
amphitheater outdoor stone seating

Summer’s here and the one place everyone wants to be is outside. Catering to your audience by putting on an outdoor play makes sense but, you must have the right logistics in place. As outdoor theater starts making its comeback, it’s time to get prepared with an effective plan. Here's what you need to know to make your outdoor theatre production a success.

Covering all bases during the production meeting helps set the team up for success. While outdoor plays are enjoyable, you must consider unexpected occurrences. These tips can help with a successful transition:

Social Distancing

Even though things are slowly trying to get back to normal, social distancing should remain in the overall plan. There are federal, state, and local guidelines to follow. In addition, protecting your patrons should be priority #1. Including sanitizing stations and having PPE solutions on hand makes things easier while demonstrating you care. Seating should be carefully planned in compliance with local regulations, in addition to having seats that can be moved when needed.

Staging

The show won’t be successful if no one can see it. The right lighting is key, no matter what time of day. Adequate lighting helps make things easier for the actors and patrons. The stage should be well-lighted, and any pathways illuminated to avoid injuries. Also, consider the following:

  • Seating
  • The stage
  • Type of production
  • Patrons

Is the stage facing a direction where visibility based on sunlight is crucial? Are there trees in the vicinity that would make everything too dark? Open-air theaters accommodate these types of events. Taking a few days to visit prospective locations at different times of the day can save time. There's a reason why location scouts are lucrative. The right location makes everything else fall into place.

Grounds

When selecting the spot for the stage and seating, consider the ground. It is always best to have flat surfaces to avoid slip and fall scenarios. When opting for something different than open-air theaters, you must consider the landscape. Are there trees in the area? Do they provide a buffer from noise or inclement weather? The goal is to make sure you are in a spot that complements the stage and offers variety. Ideal locations accommodate a variety of needs.

Weather 


What happens when the weather starts acting up? If the seating is in an area where the dirt can get very muddy, you have a problem. Although you cannot control the weather, you can make concessions if it’s a rainy day. The plan should include waterproofing for the stage and audience as a “just in case.” The truth of the matter is … people adapt. If they want to be there, they will come – rain or shine.

Sound

When you are outside, there are several factors that can alter the sound. Is the stage secluded enough where sound will not be a problem? Will you have electricity or battery packs where the actors can wear microphones? Consider the wind – will the sound travel to or from the audience? One way to ensure your audience can hear you is to plan to do things in a bigger way. That means speaking, music, and dancing.

Distractions and Noise

Let’s face it – unwelcome noises are par for the course when outside. Depending on the location of your set and time of day, you could be in the middle of chaos. Make sure there are not any other events going on in proximity that could create a distraction. Noise simulations throughout rehearsals train the actors on how to respond to distractions.

Lighting

If the play takes place late afternoon or early evening, lighting plays a huge role. Adequate lighting helps make things easier for the actors and patrons. The stage should be well-lighted, and any pathways illuminated to avoid injuries. Temporary lighting solutions that can be staked into the ground may be one cost-effective solution to consider. 

Outdoor theater is exciting, allowing freedom of expression to take center stage. Using an outside landscape, outdoor plays encourage and enhance interactivity. When producing your next outdoor show, On The Stage can help with a comprehensive solution for tickets, promotions, audience engagement, merchandising needs, and more. 

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On The Stage

On The Stage

By theatre makers, for theatre makers, On The Stage offers expert insights, best-in-class support, and an all-in-one platform for ticketing, promotion, audience engagement, and more...including a complete production and streaming platform for performing artists. Learn more today.