What is a 1-to-6 Scale Theatre Lab?


So what, actually, is this 1-to-6 Theatre Lab?  It is a 1' = 6’ scale fully working theatre. 

This scale lab can fit in most classrooms and the scale feels pretty natural.  I think in part because a standard Barbie doll is in 1-to-6 scale or pretty close, at least height wise (we won’t go into real life proportions).  Ken is 6’ tall in the lab and Barbie is about 5’-8”.  A standard lab proscenium opening of 6’-6” wide and 4’ tall, translates to a 39’ x 24’ proscenium opening.  This both feels manageable to work in and represents a fairly standard proscenium theater.  We build our labs, with a full range of soft goods including legs, borders, a full stage black, and cyc. We can also make a full stage rear projection screen, white cyc, or really anything you want.  Add a miniature lighting  package from Barbizon (Charlotte, NC), Cyd Knight helped us spec it out, and you now have a fully functioning theater in your classroom.  MR 16 birdies work as PAR 64s and 3” Inky Fresnel works for like a 5kw Fresnel.  We are currently working on including elements for flying scenery and rigging.  It would be great to be able to teach the fundamentals of flying and rigging without needing a theater.


A short video on the history and philosophy of the Theatre Lab, as presented at UTK's Open Mic Night Series


"Many of you are new to the classroom theatre lab idea so here is a little history of how this all came about.

While I was attending the 2003 Prague Quadrennial International Stage Design Exhibit, I came across a 1 to 4 scale lighting lab in the exhibit hall.

It was one of those classic “Ah Hah” moments for me. What a great way to teach! Why weren't we doing this? I spoke with Henk van der Geest who brought the lab from his studio in Amsterdam and the wheels started spinning. Next at the 2007 Prague Quadrennial, I taught a 3-day master class in the lab and was hooked. The following year I traveled to Henk’s lighting school in Amsterdam, ILO, with my students and worked in his labs for about a week.  When I returned I began working on building a scale lab here at the University of Tennessee.

While waiting for the funding to come through, I built a smaller, very rough, 1 to 6 scale lab and began using it.  I loved the ease and speed of it both as a lighting designer and teacher.  Once the 1 to 4 lab was completed I redesigned the 1 to 6 lab and put it in our design classroom.  This has now become the most used teaching tool we have in the department. It has shifted from being a lighting lab to now being a full theatre lab. Rigging, Sound and projection packages are on their way. Set designers are using it to light their models and photograph them and are giving it rave reviews.  Costume designers are working with fabric and light, and the lighting designers use it everyday. We even have directors wanting time with it. I just completed an advanced version of the lab and have received dozens of requests for information on how buy one. 

So here you go, welcome to the web site."