Ensemble Studio Theatre
Known for producing provocative, original new plays and nurturing emerging voices, the Ensemble Studio Theatre is a nonprofit theatre made up of a dynamic community of artists committed to the collaborative process. They develop plays that engage and challenge audiences in New York City and around the country.
EST came to Radish Lab looking to create a new site that was both intuitive to navigate and robust enough to convey a wealth of information about their diverse programs. EST does much more than just produce plays. The company hosts performances, festivals, readings, and other activities, and wanted a clean, modern site that was able to accommodate the complexity and diversity of their wide-range of offerings.
Radish took an image-rich approach to the project. EST has a trove of beautiful photos taken from productions in their intimate Manhattan space–think stylish sets, photogenic actors, and great lighting. This wealth of imagery wasn’t being tapped on their former site, so we saw an immediate opportunity to convey the visual richness of their terrific production values. We implemented a homepage slider to bring users right up to the front row, and layered engaging, topic-appropriate photos on each internal page.
In addition to the visual approach, Radish cleaned up EST’s information architecture, which was ragged and full of redundancies. This helped establish clean, intuitive user flows and give the site a more modern, relevant feel. It’s now much easier for different types of users–from theatre goers and supporters to ensemble members and emerging playwrights–to find what they’re looking for in a way that makes sense.
Because EST is a beloved and historic institution, the site boasts a robust archival section that allows users to browse their storied past productions. Figuring out how to “package” and index each different type of event–from mainstage shows to working brunches–presented a challenge. The EST team helped us decode the best way to enable users browse this layered archive of images, videos, reviews, and artist profiles.
Representing EST’s extensive community on the site was another challenge. The theatre doesn’t just have an artistic director, staff, and a cast of actors for each show. It maintains an ensemble of actors that numbers in the hundreds, in addition to their Youngblood company. We made sure that the site served as a resource and showcase for a broad community of established and emerging artists.
We chose the Squarespace platform as the best fit for the budget and timeline of this project. Its range of responsive, image-focused templates make it adaptable to a range of projects. For EST, we added a little custom CSS to the Bedford template to make sure it fit just right. EST was also grateful to have an easy-to-use CMS that allows for regular updates, as well as template updates that prevent the site from becoming obsolete within a few years.