OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company (O2B2)
From our founding in 2004, O2B2 was dedicated to the art of “Theatre About Theatre” (metatheatre). Our first production, Robert Brustein’s updated treatment of Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author (2005) was undertaken in cooperation with the Greenbelt Arts Center, a Black Box space located in the lower level of the Greenbelt Co-op building.
We hoped to have a home of our own one day, but that day hasn’t come. In 2015, four years after our last production, we placed a call for new board members with enthusiasm for reviving the company, but the silence was deafening, and we’ve let it go.
How do I get involved?
Reality being what it is, there are ways to reach us, but without a board of directors and no funds, there’s no company. If you have the desire to change that situation, please reach out to us at the address on our contact page or via Facebook.
How do I find out more?
Feel free to offer your administrative, acting, directorial, or technical support.
In January, 2008, OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company, Inc. was recognized as a 501(c)(3) Educational Non-Profit Theatre Company, but that status is dormant and has been since 2012.
How do you operate?
Our Bylaws (19k pdf) are available online. Membership is open to everyone and is required for individuals who participate in our productions. Board nominations open in May each year.
O2B2 is all about experimentation. Most of the pieces we produce are best suited to the intimacy, flexibility and freedom associated with a Black Box environment.
There’s a special kind of energy generated by Black Box performances. Done right, we move our audiences from observation to participation in the action onstage.
One day, if we ever move to a larger space, we’ll still be OutOftheBlackBox!
What is a Black Box Theatre, anyway?
TheFreeDictionary.com defines a Black Box space as follows:
The black box theatre is a relatively recent innovation, consisting of a simple, somewhat unadorned performance space, usually a large square room with black walls and a flat floor. Such spaces are easily built and maintained, and are usually home to plays or other performances with very basic technical arrangements– limited sets, simple lighting effects, and an intimate focus on the story, writing, and performances rather than technical elements. The seating is typically loose chairs on platforms, which can be easily moved or removed to allow the entire space to be adapted to the artistic elements of a production. Common floorplans include thrust, modified thrust, and arena.
The black box theatre is especially favored by colleges and other theatre training programs because the space is versatile and easy to change. Many theatre training programs will have both a large proscenium theatre, as well as a black box theatre. Not only does this allow for two productions to be mounted simultaneously, but they can also have a large extravagant production in the mainstage while having a small experimental show in the black box.
Most older black boxes were built more like television studios, with a low pipe grid overhead. Newer black boxes typically feature catwalks or tension grids. The latter providing the flexibility of the pipe grid with the accessibility of a catwalk.
Black box theatres became popular and wide spread particularly in the 1960s and 1970s, during which low cost experimental theatre was being actively practiced as never before. Since almost any warehouse or open space in any building can be transformed into a black box, the appeal for nonprofit and low income artists is high. The black box is also considered by many to be a place where more “pure” theatre can be explored, with the most human and least technical elements being in focus.
(The original Definition of a Black Box Theatre.)