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Three Theaters and Some Intermissions

03.12.10 | 4 Comments


CATEGORIES audiences, conversation starter

And now, a post about theaters of different sizes and how their intermissions help make audiences feel more comfortable.

1). When I was at Steppenwolf for American Buffalo, I noticed that audience members were able to order their drinks before the show and have them ready at intermission. This made a lot of sense because it would cut down on time that audience members would spend in line and enable patrons to spend more time talking with their friends, spending time in the lobby and possibly finding out more info about Steppenwolf’s season.

2). At New Leaf Theatre’s The Man Who Was Thursday, everyone had to go out into the lobby area for intermission. In the entryway area of the Lincoln Park Cultural Center, concessions were being sold, but this was separate from the lobby area. Which gave the audience multiple places to go during intermission since everyone had to leave the main performance area.

3). At Theatre Cedar Rapids’ newly renovated space, there is not only a larger lobby than they previously had, but also a lounge that is adjacent to the lobby. In the actual lobby, there is an actual concessions booth that’s recessed into the wall, in addition to a stand set up in another spot in the lobby and one that was set up in the lounge, which gives audiences multiple places to go to. At the concessions booth, there were multiple options for snacks, in addition to the options of soda, water and alcoholic beverages. I ordered buttered popcorn, which you can get at Cedar Falls Community Theatre and get a larger quantity of there, but the buttered popcorn at TCR was of a better quality. In addition to buttered popcorn, there was also cheddar popcorn and caramel popcorn. After purchasing the items, it was very easy to turn around, stand somewhere in the lobby and not get in the way of other patrons. There was also the lobby that you were able to go to.

(Prior to the renovation, there were volunteers that went around with snacks on trays and asked patrons if they wanted something. Soda was able to be purchased at the box office.)

These are all examples of how intermissions work and make the audiences feel comfortable. An example of things that don’t work include putting your concessions stand in a corner, which I’ve witnessed at multiple theaters. This doesn’t work because it creates a traffic jam since everyone is headed towards the stand and there is usually not a lot of room to move away.

But by having a well-organized intermission, it creates a good patron experience. There might also then be something unique that enables audiences to remember the theater and spend money at intermission.

Ultimately, it’s a lesson in customer service. For some plays, intermissions are necessary and treating your audiences like people can give them a good impression.

Monica Reida

Blogger, freelancer, critic, unproduced playwright

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  • mortartheatre

    Red Tape Theatre's shows are in a church in Chicago. They made interesting use of their intermission by requiring all audience to leave the stage area and wait in the adjacent community room they had set up casually with seats. Slowly, actors started filtering in to the area and you realized they had really just tricked you in to moving to a different set and you were now a participant in their “town hall” scene. They certainly had my attention.

  • monicareida

    That reminds me a bit of the way that Man Who Was Thursday was staged at the beginning. (Actors started moving out into the lobby and, wham, you were in Saffon Park.) But that way it gives the audience a bit of a break and gives them a surprise at intermission. Also, there might not be the problem of intermissions running overtime.

  • mortartheatre

    Yes! And they were free to completely alter the main stage while we were watching the first half of the second act in the “lobby”.

  • Very cool idea.


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