by Kelsey Rowlson
Walking into the Syre Auditorium gave off a certain feel. The seating, which holds a comfortable 65 patrons, compared to the Black Box which could only hold 35 patrons at a time, faces the stage, nestled on a four-tier platform. With lights dimmed, warm air, and music slowly filling the room, you felt comfortable and ready to listen, watch, and absorb the show.
“We’re about to start here! Those electronic cell phone things, make sure you turn them off,” Gerald Large, director, says to the audience from the front of the room.
The audience quiets, the lights go out. The music loudens as the lights come back up, and watching “Deutscher Expressionismus,” a collection of five German Expressionist one-act plays which also included a few short monologues, begins.
The new seating set-up, which was put into effect just a few months ago for the summer production “Taming of the Shrew,” seems to have many positive aspects in comparison to the Black Box, but also a few negatives.
“Syre auditorium has numerous acoustic problems and the new seating arrangement helps immensely,” said Large. The new tier set-up that sits just off the stage, definitely gave a roomier, less in-your-face, feel while watching the show.
The old Black Box set-up could be described as cramped since audience members sat in chairs on the side of the stage.
The only downside seemed to come from the third and fourth rows in the new tiered seating as people strained their necks to see what was happening at the front of the stage.
Large also said that the tiered seating is put up when the play begins and taken down after the three days that they play shows. “The biggest challenge with it is getting it up. It takes a team of 8 strong people 2 hours.”
What’s next for the theatre? Large said the next play production coming to Whatcom is a comedy called “30 Reasons Why Not to Do a Play” which will show March 17. 18. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Syre auditorium.