In a community that greatly prides itself in its involvement with the arts, it was tremendously important for Staging Concepts to come up with the perfect black box solution for Woodbury, Minnesota’s newest performing arts facility, Merrill Community Arts Center.
Since 1995, there had been a big push to build an art center in Woodbury to foster community interaction. Within the art center would be a large loft theatre and a black box theatre. Eighteen years and 2.5 million private dollars later, the black box theatre project was well on its way. After its grand opening in February 2013, Staging Concepts strategically created a seating riser system that would effectively function within the facility.
“We really needed something that had flexibility in setup options because we didn’t want to have just one look,” said Michelle Witte, operations director of Merrill Community Arts Center. “With the variety of shows we plan on having here, we needed a seating riser that could be easily reconfigured for different performance layouts.”
From a partial-arena, to an end stage, to a thrust layout, the Staging Concepts Seating Riser was designed to be readily re-arranged into three configurations depending on the need of a particular performance.
“We have a lot of plays but we don’t have a lot of technical experts, so it was really important for us to find a system that was durable, safe, yet could be easily setup by our volunteers,” Witte said.
With 10 volunteers, the majority being students, the Staging Concepts Seating Riser was configured for Merrill Community Arts Center’s first black box show, Nunsense. The show debuted to sold-out crowds in April 2013. With only enough room for 120 seats for each show, the seating riser was an important factor in improving sightlines for everyone in the audience.
“One thing we really loved about the system was that it was customized to fit our needs,” Witte said. “For example, we had our carts customized so that the tall bars were removable to allow us to roll them underneath the platform system for storage.”
This particular seating riser was built with 41 Staging Concepts SC90 platforms, a combination of SC9600 and SC90 leg supports, a set of black powder coated IBC Guardrail and standard stair units. The seating riser can be configured to have stairs in the center or outer aisles of the system. Whether the theatre wants to split the seating riser to have a set of risers on each side of the room and the stage in the center, or to have one large system facing the stage, the riser can be dismantled and re-arranged with ease.