What is a listening room? That was the question that I had the first time musician Nancy Elliott refered to BlackBox Foundation Theatre as a great listening room. Since we began our Concert Series with Nancy and the amazing performers she has brought to us, I didn’t really understand what she was talking about. Of course, it’s a listening room. Isn’t any room where someone is performing a listening room? Yet, I didn’t give it much thought. That is, until my husband and I drove down to a venue in Tucson to listen to a band that was performing there. There was a stage set up with lights, sound equipment and tables set up on the patio. Waitresses were bustling around, people were coming in and talking, and the band began to play. Although it seemed that everyone that came in was there because of this band, people continued to talk. There were small shops off the patio with patrons going in and out. The band was fantastic, and everyone was enjoying the show, but this was not a listening room. I understand now.
I have been to many bars and restaurants that have live music and I have always enjoyed it. I’ve been to concerts in large arenas, coming away exhilarated and exhausted. A listening room is neither of those venues. It’s something more, something intimate. A listening room could be as small as your living room or, in our case, a theatre that seats eighty-six. It is a space where the focus is the performance. It is not a quiet room by any means. You might sing along or laugh out loud. The artist may even come and sit with you during intermission, just to chat. It’s exciting because you may hear music that has never been performed anywhere before. The artists will talk to you and tell you the stories behind their songs. And, yes, they are the artists original songs. Songs they have written for friends and family to show their love. Songs of hardship and longing, of their life as a modern-day cowboy, or just going fishing. It’s a listening room.
Over the past few months BlackBox Foundation Theatre has been the host of a Concert Series. These special performances are the perfect continuation of our mission to enhance the quality of life of people in our community by providing them with opportunities to experience the arts through performance and education.
I invite you to join us in our Listening Room.
by Dawn Hunter, Co-Executive Director