The $100 Theatre Project
Over the weekend some friends and I converted a dusty, dingy basement into a welcoming, immersive 14-seat performance space. We did everything for $100. Here's how:
What would ordinarily be the most expensive part of the project was, for us, the cheapest. We rescued old office chairs from a dumpster. After removing the casters, we screwed the chairs to simple wooden 2x4 frames. This locked them into banks of 3 or 4 chairs. Bonus: Each seat gets its own armrest so you don't have to share with your neighbor!
Since our space only occupied half of the basement, we needed to mask out the ugly "backstage" part. We stapled black flat sheets (with pleats) along the back of the wooden beam that splits the basement. It took four ($10 each at Walmart) sheets to cover the 25' length, plus mask off entrances.
Lighting is what really changed the feel of the space to something more theatrical. We swapped the existing overhead lighting for 120w soft flood lamps, and changed the wall switch out for a dimmer switch.
On top of that, we screwed two 250w work lights ($10 each at Home Depot) into the ceiling in opposite corners of the room. We circuited those into another dimmer. Eventually we plan on adding another circuit of lights in the other two corners, and gelling them for color.
My University has only been on summer break for a few days and students already have an off-campus space to perform in. We're expecting a summer full of experimental student-written performances!