First ‘black box’ theatre in city with flexible seating is a surprise hit | Pune News

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Pune: The first black box theatre space in the city, simply titled The Box, opened inside a former industrial shed, off Karve Road, in the middle of Covid-19 pandemic in August.
“The shed we acquired for the space was of an ideal dimension for a black box theatre, and it had high-voltage electricity supply and ideal lights. We were preparing some of the space for green rooms when Covid-19 struck. We were forced to stop all work mid-March. The resumption of work started in June and we threw our doors open two months later,” Pradeep Vaidya, a theatre professional and the proprietor of The Box, told TOI.
Black box theatre spaces are not exactly a novelty in India and used only by experimental theatre groups. While early forms of it existed in the US, the use of black boxes as an avant-garde theatre movement took off in post-World War II Europe, with playwrights like Antonin Artaud laying the groundwork for such spaces.
As the name suggests, the walls and floors of theatre are black, preferred due its “neutrality” during theatre performances, and the structures are always boxy in nature, with high ceilings, which makes for good acoustics and flexible lighting.
Incidentally, the most well-known black box theatre spaces in the country, such as the Black Box Okhla in New Delhi, are also located inside former factory floors.
“Depending on what the producer wants, we can do anything with the seating. People can be seated around the performers, or the performers can stage the play around the audience. That also contributes to what is known as the immersive theatre setting.,” Vaidya added.
As theatres were allowed to open in early-November, The Box became surprisingly popular for a variety of plays across languages. It has played host to a play nearly every weekend since November 5.
“We are hosting Theatron’s Year End theatre festival later in December, and in the coming weeks we are hosting Satish Alekar’s play Mahanirvan, as well as a play by Purushottam Berde. Our bookings for all major slots in December are full,” he said.

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