NATEAC: A Real Winner
by Ellen Lampert-Greaux
July 23rd, 2008
The second day of the NATEAC, the inaugural North American Theatre Engineering and Architecture Conference, confirmed its success and importance. Once again there were three sessions X three times slots, followed by a concluding plenary session in the afternoon. I attended sessions on Alternative Theatre Spaces, The Greener Theatre, and Single Purpose Theatres-Vegas & Beyond. In the alternative spaces session, Chris Buckley, Stan Pressner, and Robert Long looked at recent technically challenging productions such as the Macbeth at the roof-less tobacco warehouse in Brooklyn and Die Soldaten at the Park Avenue Armory, using them as prime examples of the what's, how's and wherefore's of using such spaces, from proper permits to enough power.
The Greener Theatre talked about created LEED certified buildings and ended on a pretty funny note. Architect Scott Georgeson had shown an image of a theatre with a grass roof so that people looking down on it from the bluffs above would see a park rather than an industrial roof. Later in the session, someone suggested that wool, right off the back of the sheep, would make great acoustic material and be a very organic option. So moderator David Taylor suggested putting grass on the top of all flytowers for the sheep, to keep them nearby. Taylor continued to be very funny and spot-on during the plenary session he co-chaired with Steve Ehrenberg… who had just moderated the single purpose theatre panel, using Vegas as an example, and even showing the numbers of how these $100 million venues recoup quickly.. in just two years for a sellout show.
In the plenary session, Steve and David wrapped up the two days of sessions.. Steve offered some funny lightbulb jokes.. how many architects etc…. and they provided a series of themes that had cropped up during all the various sessions. In the end, the first US NATEAC concluded with everybody ready to come back for the next one! Congrats again to Bill Sapsis and his staff for organizing and running a good conference. And maybe, just maybe, all of the sessions and discussions and networking will really lead to better buildings and a greener outlook for the future of the performing arts.