The Spectatorium, 1893

mackaye-spectatorium2

[Steele MacKaye's Spectatorium was intended to re-create the landing of Christopher Columbus, complete with mini-ocean, waves, and an island.]

With seating for 10,000, an eight foot deep concrete tank under the entire stage complete with wave machine and wind machines, railroad ties to aid in the shifting of three dimensional scenery behind a "light curtain," the Spectatorium was envisioned for the 1893 Chicago Exposition. Conceived by the engineer and dramatist Steele MacKaye (father of Benton MacKaye), the Spectatorium was intended as a "mechanical duplication of nature." In fact the spectacle was intended to be so immersive that the play was written intentionally to contain no speaking parts.

[The Spectatorium, a twenty-five stage theatre designed to mount Steele Mackaye's play about Christopher Columbus for the Chicago Exposition of 1893, unbuilt.]

[A section through The Spectatorium, a twenty-five stage theatre designed to mount Steele Mackaye's play about Christopher Columbus for the Chicago Exposition of 1893, unbuilt.]

Recommended reading: Pictorial Illusionism: The Theatre of Steele MacKaye by J.A. Sokalski.

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