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sandik

Raked Stages

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A friend asked me recently when theaters began to be built without a raked stage, and I wasn't able to track down any reliable information. Does anyone here have information about it?

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I have no historical facts, however in the 1960s, when I did my first Nutcracker tour as a student, we were still dancing on rakes in many theaters. By the 1970s there were fewer and as the years have past I see fewer and fewer. However, in Europe, they are still building them with rakes.

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Up until five or six years ago the Academy of Music in Philadelphia had a raked stage. The Academy is home to Pennsylvania Ballet. At the time of the renovation I heard that the Academy stage was the last of its kind in the U.S. I don't know if that is true.

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There are still stages left in the US that are raked, of course. I think the question was about when they stopped building them that way?

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The raked stage is often the mark of a platform constructed in a playhouse or a music hall. It was easier in the days of all-wood construction to lay an auditorium floor flat and the stage tilted so that the "groundlings" could see feet, and coincidentally hear a bit better, as the rake acted as a sort of megaphone, projecting sound out into the house.

When poured-concrete construction became THE quick and easy way to build large structures, around 1900, it was discovered that it was easier and cheaper to build stepped or inclined auditoriums and simply lay a slab for a stage floor then put a level stage on it. When sound movies started, in 1927, it became much less important for a stage to be raked, and for the maximum number of people to be able to see the stage, so the rake became less important.

But there had always been flat stages, too, in houses where the principal purpose of the stage was to be a speaking platform for orators. The public lecture is a form of entertainment we don't see anymore, its function having been taken over by TV.

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Thanks Major Johnson. Interesting information! :(

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