Here’s another guest article, this time from Maria! Hope you enjoy.
When most people want to see a theater or stage performance, they check out reviews of the show or ask friends if they have seen it. But rarely do people base their decision to see a production based on what kind of seating is available. While this makes sense most of the time, there are some performing arts venues around the world that offer not only outstanding performances, but optimal seating from which to view the stage or screen. While you may not be able to see every show at these impressive venues, you can use these tips to find the best seat in the house wherever you go.
Circular Seating: The Shakespeare Globe Theater in London
You may not be familiar with circular-style theater seating, like that in the Globe theater in London. In the late 1500s, Shakespeare’s theater company, The Chamberlain’s Men, built the original Globe theater to house some of the playwright’s performances. Unfortunately, the venue was destroyed in a fire in 1613. Centuries later, in the 1990s, the Globe was rebuilt just meters away from the first site and with careful accuracy to match the original design from historical records. The seats wrap around the stage, so there is no bad view of the performance.
In a theater designed like this, you should choose a spot where you can see the performers at all angles, instead of dead center or to a far side. If the venue offers standing room like the Globe does, get a great close-up view. The venue is active in the fine arts, housing ongoing productions of Shakespeare’s works as well as operas and concerts.
Enhanced Viewing Experiences: National Noh Theatre in Tokyo
CNN lists Tokyo’s National Noh Theatre as one of the world’s most spectacular theaters. It is fairly new, built in the 1980s, but was constructed out of 400-year-old cypress trees. The rectangular stage is open on three sides, and seats fan out all around it. While the theater has a traditional look, it also uses cutting-edge technology to enhance performances, such as equipping each seat with a personal subtitling device.
If you are going to a theater that offers special enhancements like this, choose a seat where you’ll get the most out of them, such as one where you can hear well. Noh is a traditional Japanese musical play form and shows can sometimes last all day. So if you are seeing such a performance, a comfortable seat should be your main priority.
Acoustic Advantage: Stephen Sondheim Theater in New York
There are a lot of theater venues in New York City, and they all have their impressive traits and fascinating history. The Stephen Sondheim theater is no different. The Sondheim was originally built in 1918 and named Henry Miller’s Theater. While the theater got its start similar to many venues in the city, it was a cutting-edge theater in its time as it was the first in the city to have air conditioning. After it was renovated and reopened as the Stephen Sondheim Theater, it was hailed as Broadway’s first green theater, designed to be environmentally friendly and waste conscious, according to Playbill. This historical venue has been home to many iconic productions, including “Cabaret.” Today, you can see another highly acclaimed production, “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.”
As with most of the theaters housed in old buildings, such as those in New York, you have to be careful to choose a seat with both a viewing and acoustic advantage. To find the acoustic sweet spot, you want to generally be away from walls or not be too close to one speaker, an Orlando Sentinel article suggests. Pick a seat close to the sound mixer to get just the right balance of sound.
Large Venues: Comédie Française in Paris
Perhaps one of the oldest theaters in Europe, The Comédie-Française was built in the late 1600s in Paris under the rule of Louis XIV, who had a love for the performing arts. Centuries of performances, history and art make this theater a wonder to behold, as the interior is just as much a museum as a theater venue. There are busts of famous French actors and playwrights in the theater, including Corneille, Molière and Racine. This piece of living history is still in use today and holds regular performances as well as tours.
Even when you are in an enormous and elaborate theater like this, you still want to make sure you have a good seat for the show. Everyone has different preferences, but there are a couple things to watch for, claims Gizmodo. Prime seats generally have an eye-level view with the director, so you see the show from his or her point of view. You also don’t want to be too close, as it can be uncomfortable. And you don’t want an obstructed view from the balcony, curtains or stage.
Maria is a writer, philanthropist, animal lover, Earth advocate and citizen of the world. She has an affinity for public radio and three-legged dogs.