The Austin E. Quigley Black Box Theatre (formerly Lerner Black Box Theatre) functions as an artistic outlet to recognized undergraduate student organizations to facilitate the mission of Student Affairs and the University, presenting enrichment opportunities through performances open to the student body and University community. Black Box Theatre programming should showcase students’ creativity and offer a venue for artistic expression that will assist students in developing aesthetic values and human relationships, including tolerance for differing viewpoints, in an open arena of exploration, examination and extroverted dramatic conflict. It is the mission of Student Engagement to create an educational environment of great value and distinction for undergraduate student organizations to use this facility toward attainment of these goals.
Student Engagement is responsible for the scheduling and all facets of programming and student advisement for the Black Box. Any student group interested in using the Black Box should first contact their adviser and schedule a meeting for a general overview of policy and procedures relevant to the space. Programming should seek to enhance and further a reputation for excellence in artistic activity, high quality performance, and creation of artistic work. To this end, program events should promote cultural diversity, including international activities, and be created in an environment that will attract and retain productive and creative colleagues. The Black Box should support activities that enhance student life, campus and community interaction, and community and leadership development.
Physical Plant and Technical Services
Lerner UEM in conjunction with Facilities is responsible for plant operations, including seating riser set-up/breakdown, seating configurations, housekeeping, environmental controls, implementation of audio and lighting designs, security and technical advisement and training.
Production Capabilities of the Lerner Black Box Theatre
As you plan your event in the Black Box Theatre and prior to completing your proposal, please consider the following strongly. The theatre is intended to have “studio” type productions without sets and built pieces.
- There is to be no painting in the theatre.
- Any fabrics or large props/furniture used must be “certifiable” as being flame retardant. Proof of flame retardation must be submitted prior to the first public performance.
- The lighting system in the theatre provides a great resource for production design.
- The theatre is designed for acoustic productions and should not require reinforced sound.
Performances in the Black Box Theatre are encouraged to be ticketed events (they can be free, but need to be ticketed). The Ticket and Information Center (TIC) offers ticketing services to any recognized student group. Events need to be registered with TIC two weeks in advance and the registration will need to be signed off by the group’s adviser. Please see the TIC Web site for the online form to begin the registration process
Any recognized undergraduate student organization of Columbia University may propose to calendar an event in the Black Box Theatre. All productions must be mounted through an existing undergraduate student organization.
Each potential Producer (undergraduate student organization) is allowed to pre-calendar for the Black Box Theatre during the prescribed pre-calendaring period. This reservation request will be held but not confirmed. Every Producer must then submit a written Production Proposal five (5) weeks prior to the production date before this reservation is confirmed (For productions happening within the first five weeks of any semester, the proposal is due by the first Friday of classes in that semester). Proposals must be signed by the organization’s adviser before being reviewed. [Note: There is a link to the Proposal Registration Forms on the bottom of this page.]
Production Proposals are to be submitted to the Black Box Theater Manager in the Student Engagement Office, 515 Lerner Hall.
The Production Proposal
The following items are required to be included with each Production Proposal (a proposal will be considered complete only when ALL of these items are submitted):
- A registration form including contact information for the officers of the registered organization and the entire production team. The Production Team members are responsible for ensuring that the theatre is clean and orderly before and after each rehearsal, work period, performance and strike. Production team members should include those listed as follows:
- Stage Manager (if appointed)
- Front of House Manager/Marketing and Sales Coordinator (if appointed)
- Production Technical Team, consisting of at least a Production Manager/Technical Director, and may include Scenic, Lighting and Costume Designers, Props Master, Special Effects Master.
NOTE: The greater the technical aspirations of the production, the more staff are required in order for the proposal to be approved.
- A written description of the production, including all details regarding the event and how the production will actually be produced.
- A production calendar including information regarding the dates requested, details regarding the timing of the load-in, technical rehearsals, dress rehearsals, performances, strike, and load-out.
- A ground plan sketch (to scale) of the Black Box Theatre should include the production’s scenic prop and sound equipment locations, audience-seating areas, and any obstructions. Any specific lighting requirements/plans should be included in a light plot and associated hook-up.
- A front elevation sketch (to scale) to illustrate the production’s lighting equipment positions.The Director of Technical Services (located in University Event Management) is available to assist in the creation of this technical document.
Upon approval of the Production Proposal, the ground plan sketch and front elevation sketch will be submitted to Lerner-UEM.
Criteria for approval of a Production Proposal includes overall professional quality of the proposed event, a primary intent that coincides with Student Engagement's programming mission, a description attesting to the proper use of the space, and a proven track record of past production experiences relative to the organization’s ability as a production team and/or sponsoring organization to successfully mount a production.
Proposals should be submitted as soon as possible to better chances of securing an approval, but no later than five weeks in advance of the proposed move-in date (or the first Friday of classes for that semester, which ever is later).
The submission of the proposal is the beginning of an ongoing conversation with Student Engagement advisers, the aim of which is to lead to the approval of the project. The conversation will review the proposed production plan and highlight any issues which will need to be modified before the proposal is approved. Once approved, the Producer will coordinate a meeting with Student Engagement from UEM to finalize the details and schedule for the production.
The Producer is responsible for notifying Student Engagement as well as Lerner UEM Management as soon as a booking cancellation is necessary. Lerner Hall cancellation policies apply. For more information, please consult the University Event Management website.
Each production is required to attend a minimum of two meetings (Proposal Discussion Meeting and Tech Schedule Confirmation Meeting) to discuss the production proposal and to finalize the production schedule.
WHAT: MEETING I - Proposal Discussion
WHEN: 3–5 weeks prior to the Production
WHO: Student Engagement Manager of Media, Performing Arts, and Publication Production meets with the Producer (and other members of the Production Team that the Producer chooses to bring).
AGENDA: To review the proposal and clarify all issues concerning the production plans (including but not limited to: seating arrangement, scenic/prop elements, use of fake weapons and/or fake alcohol, lighting plans, etc.). IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PRODUCER TO SCHEDULE THIS MEETING, failure to do so will jeopardize the ability of the production to proceed.
WHAT: MEETING II: Tech Schedule Confirmation (Please note: this meeting can often be virtual and handled through a group email)
WHEN: No later than the Tuesday in the week preceding the production’s load-in to the theatre.
WHO: The Producer meets with the Student Engagement Black Box Theatre Manager and a representative from Lerner Tech Services.
AGENDA: The tech schedule, including when Lerner Tech staff is needed for the entire production is set at this meeting. IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PRODUCER TO ARRANGE THIS MEETING, failure to do so will jeopardize the ability of the production to proceed.
The Production Team and/or officers of the sponsoring organization are responsible for any and all incidents and damages arising from the booking, use, damages to and liabilities for, the Black Box Theatre during the period of habitation.
Evaluation of the Theatre Space
The Producer accepts the Black Box Theatre in the as-is condition available without any pre-conditions or stipulations. An inspection of the equipment and condition of the theatre will be conducted prior to load-in, between the Producer, Manager of Technical Services for Lerner-UEM, and the Student Engagement Manager of Media, Performing Arts, and Publication Productio. Additional inspections will occur during the period of habitation. Failure to pass an inspection may limit the availability or use of the theatre until corrective action has occurred.
General housekeeping of the theatre is the responsibility of the Producer
Fire and Safety Inspections
For information, please consult University Event Management.
Use of the Black Box Space
The Black Box Theatre is a shared resource available to any undergraduate group. Care and consideration of the facility, materials and equipment and overall security is expected.
Along with the theatre, there are two dressing rooms which can be used by the production using the Black Box Theatre. There is also a storage room (Black Box Storage) which contains locked cages in which props and furniture for the community are stored; this is a multi-use space and needs to be maintained in a clean and organized manner. No items may be placed in Black Box Storage prior to the load-in date of your production, and no item may be left in Black Box Storage past the load out date of your production without explicit approval by Student Engagement. Additionally, access to the prop and furniture cages is available during posted drop-in hours or by appointment only. Any items left in the storage or dressing rooms after the load-out date of the production will be removed and the expense charged to the producing organization’s account. Likewise, if these spaces are left in an unseemly manner, the cost to restore the space to its proper shape will be charged to the producing organization’s account.
Only the Producer and Director of a production may allow access to the theatre. The theatre must be locked anytime it is unoccupied, even for short durations. Management is not responsible for any personal items left unattended in the Black Box, its dressing rooms, or its storage facility.
The schedule for Technical Staffing will be set at the Tech Schedule Confirmation Meeting as described above.
A House Tech will be assigned anytime lighting, sound or communication equipment is being used (including set-up and strike of this equipment). Access to the Technical Booth is restricted and only permissible when a House Tech is present. Regular technical rates will apply and will be charged directly to the producing organization’s account.
A House Tech will be assigned to each performance, at the standard rate. The Tech’s call time will coincide with the reservation time unless otherwise approved by the Manager of Technical Services.
A House Tech will be present during the restore of the lighting plot. Based on the complexity of the show lighting plot, adequate restore time should be included with the sponsoring organization’s reservation. The standard rate applies.
Safety Guidelines for Lerner Hall apply to all productions presented at the Black Box Theatre. Prior to the start of each production the Black Box is subject to inspection. This inspection will include a review of the aisle widths and a discussion of evacuation procedures in the event of an emergency.
It is mandatory that the producing organization representatives and key production team members schedule a meeting with the Student Engagement Manager of Media, Performing Arts, and Publication Production and the Manager of Technical Services the next day following load-out. The purpose of this meeting is to provide a forum for feedback for all parties involved in this creative process, to review expectations and outcomes, and provide an opportunity for future growth.
Policy and Procedure Guidelines Disclaimer
The Austin E. Quigley Black Box Theatre will be modifying policies and guidelines over time in response to users’ needs. Student Engagement will review these needs and periodically update programming policies and guidelines. Student Engagement, with input from Lerner UEM, reserves the right to update this policy at any time.