Experimental and thrust theaters both involve an audience that surrounds three sides of the stage. As such, the stage itself can either be the hard cement floor, or the platform built on top of it. To help maintain a level floor, the cement is often paved with asphalt, a tricky thing if the theater is indoors. If your company’s own thrust or experimental theater flooring is in need of paving, here is what you need to know and do.
Get Everything out of the Theater Space
Since paving your theater floor is a major project on a minor scale, you will need to move everything out of the theater space. Since most thrust and experimental theaters have seating that can either be collapsed into the walls or taken down, folded up, and rolled out (grand stand seating), this should be the first thing you do. Either get all of the seating out of the theater, or collapse it into the walls where it cannot get in the way. If you have curtains and other items that could get in the way, take these out too.
If Possible, Open the Stage Doors
If your thrust or experimental theater has some really large stage doors that open to the outside, open these fully. On the day that the paving crew arrives, this gives them the ability to move in and out of the theater freely with their equipment and the asphalt. Depending on the height and width of the doors, they may also be able to drive a mini-roller truck in to evenly flatten the asphalt across the cement floor. This will hasten the installation process so that your company does not experience any show delays.
Make Way for the Crew, a Portable Asphalt Mixer, and Lots of Trowels
In order to cover your theater floor (be it inside a building or outside on its own), a crew with lots of long-handled push trowels and a portable asphalt mixer are coming in. They will spend the day mixing, pouring, pushing and flattening the asphalt on top of your cement floor. If your theater is in any type of closed area or building, you will need to leave ALL the doors to the outside open, as well as any windows, if applicable. The asphalt produces some overbearing fumes which need to air to the outside until the floor is fully dry and set.
Do Not Attempt a Performance Before the Asphalt Is Set and Cooled
It goes without saying that your performers should not set foot on the asphalt floor until it has set and cooled. Your stage hands and set building crews should not step on it either. With that in mind, it is probably best to complete this project during a seasonal break so you do not interrupt regular performance schedules.