University of Texas at Austin

Theatre Number Six
Norman Bel Geddes (American, 1893-1958)
Charcoal on paper

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Norman Bel Geddes Database

Job 15, Theatre Number Six (Diagonal Axis), 1915-1929, 1947

Summary: One of Bel Geddes's most influential innovations was the diagonal axis theater which he developed very early and published in 1915 in his Inwhich magazine. He re-purposed this plan as Theater Number Six in a 1922 presentation to the Architectural League of New York. Shortly after, Claude Bragdon publicized Geddes’s innovation in an article in Architectural Record.

Geddes, by centering the stage and auditorium on a diagonal rather than the traditional longitudinal axis, was able to double the stage area and utilize eighty-four percent of the theater space. More seats were made available in a smaller area, and, as Bragdon stated, “Every spectator sees everything on the stage at all times. The entire scene yields a sense of luminous space and distance impossible in the existing type of stage ... There can be no bad seats in this type of theatre.”

The diagonal axis design was adopted by many other architects and designers and served as the basis for many of Geddes's subsequent theater designs.

Geddes used images of Theater Number Six in his 1947 article about the Flexible Theatre (job 90; Norman Bel Geddes, "Design for a New Kind of Theatre," New York Times Magazine, 30 Nov. 1947).

Hunter Code: TH 36
Hunter Guide: page 192

(click image for description)

Box/Location Folder Description
flat file b 1-2 Scene Renderings --- Erminie, King Lear.
flat file b 3 Scene Renderings --- Basement in Theatre Six.
flat file b 4 Scene Renderings --- Alex Leydenfrost rendering used in 1947 article. Also described by Hunter as "King Lear performed in Theatre Six."
flat file b 5 Scene Renderings --- Theatre Six plan and elevation.
theater box 161 e 1-4 Preliminary Sketches --- 57 sketches numbered 01-63 (143).
theater box 161 e 5-6 Preliminary Sketches --- 37 Sketches for Theatre Number Nine diagonal axis, multiple stage (34).
theater box 161 e 7 Preliminary Sketches --- Diagonal axis theatre sketch, 1914, with three additional sketches and note (15).
theater box 161 f 1-5 Drawings --- Illustrations for Architectural Record.
theater box 161 f 6-7 Drawings --- Sketches Theatre No. 6.
theater box 161 f 8-13 Drawings --- Plans and elevations Theatre No. 6 (15).
theater box 161 f 14-20 Drawings --- Development of Theatre No. 6 for Chicago World's Fair (143).
theater box 161 h 1 Photographs --- Of plans and renderings for article.
negative box 40 h 2 Photographs --- 6 Negatives of pictures in h 1.
theater box 161 h 3 Photographs --- Goldberg prints of model for Chicago World's Fair.
flat file h 4-5 Photographs --- Goldberg prints.
theater box 161 h 6 Photographs --- Photographic distribution reports and captions.
theater box 161 i 1-4 Publicity --- Clippings by and about NBG, 1922-1932.
flat file i 5 Publicity --- "Design for a New Kind of Theatre," article in New York Times Magazine, 30 Nov. 1947 (2 copies).
theater box 161 i 6 Publicity --- Duplicate copies of "Design for a New Kind of Theatre."
theater box 161 j 1 Correspondence --- NBG - Ernst Wasmuth, Gordon Craig, Messmore Kendall et al. 1922-1923, 1928.
flat file n 1 Drawings --- 6 Blueprints and 6 photostats of plansand sketches (15 & 143).
theater box 161 n 2 Drawings --- 3 Photostats of plan of Wilson Theatre, Detroit; of Theatre-in -a-Corner.
theater box 161 p 1 Building specifications.
theater box 161 x 1 Exhibition Material --- Plaque.
flat file x 2 Exhibition Material --- Negative photostat of basement floor plan (drawing #001).
flat file x 3 Exhibition Material --- Negative photostat of ground floor plan (drawing #002).
flat file x 4 Exhibition Material --- Negative photostat of auditorium floor plan (drawing #003).
flat file x 5 Exhibition Material --- Negative photostat of cross section plan (drawing #004).
flat file x 6 Exhibition Material --- Duplicate of x 3.
flat file x 7 Exhibition Material --- Duplicate of x 5.
theater box 161 y 1 Manuscript notes for NBG lecture to Architectural League of New York Apr1922.