MUCH of the comfort of a theatre is dependent upon the management. Since amusement is largely a psychological problem, neither the line read on the stage nor the scene there depicted is of primary importance. It is the impression produced upon the spectator's mind that is the underlying factor. A favorable impression can be made only when the mind is serene and receptive and not when it is preoccupied or distracted.
It is therefore the duty of the manager to cultivate menial receptivity in his audience. His principal opportunity to do this is through the comfort he provides and the price at which he provides it. The public today is too wise to be deluded into a belief that increased prices of admission are an assurance of the quality of a performance. On the other hand, an unfavorable mental bias is created by a high entrance fee. No one ever heard a complaint about the performance at a twenty-five cent circus, although the same show costing fifty cents might be termed vile.
Uniforming each attendant, no matter what his position, is another advantage that will insure courtesy in employes and thereby largely contribute toward the patrons' satisfaction. Proper heating and ventilation also help.
In failing to supply ample and convenient cloak room space American theatre management is sadly at fault. Inadequate cloak-hanging space is usually supplied in some out-of-the-way corner with but one attendant, or two at the most. In Germany it is legally required that there shall be one meter (39 inches) counter space for depositing and receiving wraps for every twenty persons of the theatre's capacity and a separate hook for each seat in the house. These cloak rooms also must not interfere with exit passages.
By the display of a little ingenuity ample provision for cloak rooms could be easily made in America, with little or no loss of seating space. Spaces in the foyer underneath the balcony stairs and against the side walls afford excellent opportunities for counter space, with coat-hanging conveniences behind them. The attendance of sufficient maids, to obviate tedious waiting, is also necessary.
Suitable and conveniently located toilets, though vitally necessary for the comfort of theatre patrons, are insufficiently provided in most American theatres. These toilets should not be placed at the foot or the top of narrow flights of stairs, but in accessible positions.
A most convenient plan would be to install toilets in the space now occupied by stage boxes, alongside the emergency stairs of the anti-smoke tower; toilets for men on one side, and for women on the other side. These toilets should be adequately equipped to meet the needs of the patrons, and the ladies' toilet should have the customary separate room with mirrors and other facilities for arranging the hair and dress. Proper toilets should also be placed in the stage section for the use of actors and those engaged behind the curtain.