Traditionally, the green room is a quiet waiting place where an artist can gather their thoughts, rehearse a line or polish a few bars. It’s unknown where the name came from, but one story is that London’s Blackfriars Theatre (1599) included a room behind the scenes which happened to be painted green; here the actors waited to go on stage.
As we often have high-caliber performances and speakers at the estate where I worked, we’d come to establish a green room of our own. There are a few things to consider when setting one up.
Privacy: The green room should be strictly artists, and sometimes only one artist. Fans, press, curious staff and guest should not have access. Consider the view into the windows as well. You might have a lovely guest house with views out into the garden, but if there are guests in the garden, then they will have a lovely view into your green room.
Ease of access to performance area: Consider the artist entrance. It not be the best presentation to have them walk through the crowd on their way to the stage. Consider all of your routes and choose the closest / easiest room for your green room. Musicians especially may have a large instrument or elaborate costume. Be sure they have a clear, unencumbered path with as few stairs or obstacles as possible to get them quickly to the stage when ready.
Ease of service: Likewise, how easy can your service staff attend to the room? If it’s far from the kitchen or catering staging area, set up a remote service station nearby so that your staff can refresh trays and drinks easily. We are fortunate to have a full-size refrigerator and kitchenette in ours, but even a half fridge would be extremely helpful.
Amenities: At the very least, you should provide comfortable seating and a table for eating or working. They may need a place to hang clothes, a steamer, and a changing area. A restroom should be close and easy to get to without running into guests. We provide a phone line and internet password for the guests, and a selection of phone chargers.
Adjustable Comfort: Comfort levels differ by person. A singer wants a warm room to loosen the vocal cords, while our favorite cellist would prefer to practice in a sub-zero. While it may not be practical to have a separate temperature zone, it’s easy to provide a fan and a space heater. If the thermostat in the room controls more than that zone, consider locking it down so that he cellist doesn’t freeze out all of your guests (yes, that happened).
Security: Often our green room is a waiting place for foreign dignitaries of heads of state. We’ve chosen a space that meets most of the security needs put forth by their advance teams. We also have to accommodate their security team throughout the evening. A small nearby room with unencumbered access works well for the teams.
Catering: Artists may have a rider which will detail their catering needs. In the absence of that, just provide a variety of small bites or trayed items. Be sure to consider the vegetarian in your offerings and also those who need a quick energy boost. Nuts, chocolates, and bananas are favorites of our regulars. Always have bottled water, hot tea and coffee. We also have decanters of liquor, beer and wine. Don’t forget the security team. A tray of sandwiches and cookies is always welcome.
Staff: Designate one person to take responsibility for the green room. That not only limits the traffic, but ensures the room is not forgotten. They should straighten and restock every 30 minutes and fully while the artist is performing.
Given proper thought, the green room can be an opportunity the leave a lasting impression on your guests and set the perfect tone for the evening.