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25 the back row is four metres closer to the stage than is customary. This makes it easier for young performers to reach the back rows both vocally and visually. This is also where smaller audiences are expected which means this positioning accommodates them on one floor in an effectively smaller area without drawing attention to any empty seats around them. Whats more the seats on the sides of the balcony traditionally box positions tend to paper the walls with people and add considerably to the rooms atmosphere. Additional features are the removable seats which allow for more seating options for our patrons in wheelchairs. FORGET LOOK AND FEEL LOOK AND SOUND ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT You wouldnt think to look at it but the finish on the walls of the auditorium is determined by the acoustic requirements. Unfortunately multipurpose venues are notorious for bad acoustics in trying to accommodate the fundamentally opposite requirements of music and speech venues often end up with nothing sounding completely right. For instance a large concert hall needs a long reverberation time to allow for rich resonant sound but this then renders speech unintelligible. But if you set the acoustics in such a way to allow a shorter reverberation time for drama your music sounds thin. Understandably compromise is necessary but it is important to keep in mind that while a live room which is good for music can be made drier the reverse is not true. Thankfully the Arts Centre design took into account that a long reverb time is a function of volume and therefore allows virtually the full height of the fly tower over the auditorium to guarantee sufficient resonance. Modern musical productions use rather a lot of sound equipment and from both a safety and aesthetic point of view adequate provision has been made for hanging speakers. During the original construction it was understood that to attempt to conceal the speakers would not be sensible because of the different needs of each production but they were erected in such a way that they are still neat and relatively unobtrusive. The sound team can also fly the system out of sight when not in use by virtue of the height at which they hang. DO I LOOK GOOD IN THIS LIGHT Any star knows the benefit of good lighting but good lighting doesnt just mean ensuring the wrinkles dont show through an actors war paint. Also these days good lighting and good sound are one and the same and its for this reason they are kept together in one booth. This booth is not relegated to some far-off corner of the centre but resides within the auditorium itself. For a technically simple performance this offers the opportunity for one operator who is immersed in the same environment as the viewers making it easy for them to create the appropriate light and sound for the performance. Theres no doubt that every performance space is complex and needs continual evaluation particularly when any component is altered. The UJ Arts Centre has been created in such a way that should any change be required it is sufficiently flexible to accommodate such changes without detracting from its user-friendly atmosphere and the welcoming ambience to which it presents its patrons. Left SA Shorts The Wave by Renos Spanoudes Photo Supplied