Could the Future of Live Theater Involve Shipping Containers?

A new proposed design offers a stylish solution

Shipping container theater
The next play you see might be in a shipping container. (Kind of.)

Shipping containers are sturdy, portable and easy to modify — which helps to explain why, in recent years, they’ve become popular for everything from shops to housing. But a new plan from the architecture firm Marvel offers an enticing additional option: what if shipping containers could be used for the performing arts?

Writing at Dezeen, India Block explored Marvel’s proposal, which dovetails with New York’s plan to hold a number of performing arts events outdoors as the weather grows warmer. The shipping container stages would be situated 12 feet above street level, allowing an audience to see the activity on stage clearly. The elevation would also allow cars and pedestrians to walk below the stage during times when events were not being held.

Jonathan Marvel, founder of the firm, argued that this design approach worked well with existing urban infrastructure. “There is a culture of sidewalk bridging in our streets and sidewalks,” he said.

The firm has plenty of experience within the theatrical space, including designing a new space for the Arkansas theater group TheatreSquared as well as St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn.

Marvel spoke of the relative speed with which this project could be developed, noting that “within a week or two, we can have instant stage support, green rooms, and technical storage.” For people craving a return to live theater, it’s hard to deny the appeal of this approach.

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