The Audium Theater at 1616 Bush Street in San Francisco is unique because it’s the only theater in the world that was designed specifically for sound movement and to use the theater environment to inspire the music. The theater consists of the main performance space and a sound labyrinth, which is actually a building inside another building. The Audium Theater was partially funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The creators of the Audium Theater, music composer Stan Shaff and equipment designer Doug McEachern, were both professional musicians who were able to combine their art with technology to attract tourists from all over the world to experience their creation.
Stan Shaff’s music has been played through Doug McEachern’s original equipment at the Audium Theater each week since 1967. While the music is heard through 176 speakers, the theater is completely darkened in order to enhance the special effects of the sounds. The seats for the audience are arranged in concentric circles and the sound speakers are mounted on sloped walls. Each music performance is unique because the sounds from previous performances are rearranged by the theater’s sound engineer. During the 51 years that the Audium Theater has been operating since 1967, Stan Shaff has created nine different sound experiences and he says each one is based on his previous works.
The Audium Theater performance is an intimate experience because seating is available for only 49 people at each show. The experience has been described as a sound collage of music combined with sounds recorded from nature. According to Stan Shaff, many different groups of people visit the Audium Theater including architects, engineers from Dolby Laboratories, engineers from the movie industry, music composers from international universities, employees of Walt Disney Imagineering and employees of the research and development department of the Walt Disney Company.
Performances last for 1 hour and 10 minutes and are given every Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:30 PM and the doors open at 8 PM. Tickets cost $20 each but children under the age of 12 are not admitted. Parking can be difficult in the area near the Audium Theater but the least expensive parking lot is Ace Parking at 711 Van Ness Avenue. Another option is to take the California Street Trolley and get off near Van Ness Avenue, walk two blocks south and then turn left on Bush Street. You will see the Audium Theater at the corner of Franklin Street and Bush Street.
Peter Cross is an accomplished article writer and creative writer who has produced hundreds of articles for many different clients since 2006 when he retired from his consulting business.