A cube by any other name is a cube but this is a rehearsal cube.

They are used as stand-in props to help block out or act out a scene. There are endless combinations and with a little imagination, they go a long way. Stack up two cubes for a table. Use one as a chair. Put three of them together on the floor to make a bed. Turn one up so the open end is facing the audience to act as a TV set or cupboard. Use them as podiums or soapboxes to stand on. Stack three, two, then one to make a staircase or represent mountains. The possibilities are limitless.

Caitlin's gifted program at school has interaction with TADA! Youth Theater performing arts program which sends out a "consulting" team to help classes write, produce and perform their own original play or musical. TADA! does have a catchy theme song that grows on you, I must say. Her school is fortunate to be able to provide such enrichment to those fourth and fifth graders in their daily course of study.

I had volunteered to build six cubes to help with this year's production, a musical with "King Tut" as the theme. (No, Walking like an Egyptian is a pop culture thing). In researching what was needed I found that commercially built cubes or modular set pieces are quite expensive. Many other starving artists and production companies have always rigged a few up. There are these acting cubes but with my limited budget, frugalness and having volunteered to do this for the benefit of the kids, this is what I came up with.

I will add more pictures later if I can to show the cubes in use or abuse.

Disclaimer: Any references to brats, preteen monsters, or similar are meant in a loving way.

Really, these are the best bunch of kids in the world. They just need to be yelled at once in a while. That's entertainment.

**** updated September 2016

Be sure to check out the last step which is a build gallery of new rehearsal cubes built for the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics High School in Bronx, NY for their theatre arts program.

Step 1: Give It All You Got...

The requirement was to build six cubes each measuring 18" on the edge. Stacking 2 cubes gives about the right height for a table or counter. One cube is the right height for a chair or a few pushed together to make a bed.

I needed to design and build something that was strong enough to stand on and take the abuse of 8-10 year old ragamuffins aspiring actors. These cubes will be pushed, kicked and banged around on stage.

It was suggested to make the entire "apple crate" out of 3/4" thick plywood with additional 2x4 cleats to reinforce the structure. This would have been quite expensive in materials cost and the end product would have been quite heavy for kids to carry or move around. It would have to be made semi-indestructable but I knew I could do better. I had some scrap 1/2" plywood in the garage that I could use. I only needed to get some stick lumber to complete the project. I would use pocket-hole joinery to create some face frames to use in the sides of the cube and topped off with a sturdy plywood platform top face to stand or sit on. An additional cleat would reinforce the top from sagging.

For the supplies needed:

A whole bunch of various woodworking tools. The more power tools you have, the easier it will be to finish but you could still do things the old-fashioned way with just hand tools.

  • Jigsaw or circular saw
  • Power miter saw (some call it a "chop" saw not to be confused with a cutoff saw or hack saw)
  • Drill with various bits
  • Drill Driver or Impact Driver (putting in all the screws by hand would be arduous)
  • Various measuring tools (T-square, measuring tape, try-square, pencil/markers)
  • Power sander of any type (can use sandpaper, rasp, wood file, edge rounding tool)
  • Power air or electric brad nailer or hammer and brads
  • Pocket-hole jig and pan-head pocket-hole screws
  • Lotsa glue, wood glue and if you have it polyurethane glue
  • Sheet plywood, mdf, paneling
  • 1x3 lumber (I remember having about twenty 8-footers)
  • 1x2 lumber for the platform reinforcement
<p>Can you make these in a rectangular shape? Needing to mimic storage trunks. </p>
<p>Sure you can. I had made everything cube shape because I would set one measurement on the chop saw to cut all the pieces easier. If you were going for a rectangle, I would still put in some center braces like you are putting together two cubes side by side to retain the strength if you were to stand on it. The top would be a longer piece of plywood. For a storage trunk sized piece I don't think you will have any problems in just expanding the cube shape. Just test it out when framed up and you will know if you have to reinforce it some more. Good luck.</p>
Not knowing any thespians, nor having been one (besides a little experimenting in college) I (foolishly) thought the cubes were soundproof boxes that you put your head in in order to rehearse lines or sing or something of that nature, without driving neighbors or other thespians up the wall before the production even opened. After viewing your ible, I like your idea better. Hahaha yeah, I'm a fool, but one day I'll make an instructable that will benefit fools like myself. Of course they won't know it at first glance and it will be entirely useless to normal people. But if I can help one person to see as I see, I will not be alone. We will. Nicely done.
Thanks so much for this! This is exactly what I was looking for.<br/>Good job done by you. Thanks<br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.toa.edu/">http://www.toa.edu/</a><br/>
It's nice to see others using this box method! I just stage managed a production of "Nickel and Dimed" this past spring with a local college troupe in Indiana and our basic set/props were something akin to this - but rather heavy boxes. Needless to say, the boxes did wonders and helped make sets for every scene or were simply stacked to the sides if necessary (our director's vision was very Brechtian, so absurdity and outlandish props were the goal). They built all the boxes (although I think one was previously built as a type of trunk so we just had to paint it) extremely sturdy to take a beating though, so you could stand up any one of them without fear of falling.
Thanks for sharing. These cubes got a workout at their production. The kids were commenting who had the best idea of arranging the cubes when they were choreographing or marking the layout? The other class stacked them 3 - 2 -1 in a pyramid shape tower. The singers sat on each plateau. Other times they were used as "solo" risers to get the main players up from the crowd. They were used as vendor stands in the marketplace scene. I did make a treasure chest prop out of cardboard/hotglue/gold paint. I should put up a pic.
These look robust, I can see them kicking around for years. They'll be some kind of legacy L
They are rock-solid if you jump or sit on top of them. I've used the pocket-hole-screw method on a variety of projects and they have held up quite well. I'm pretty proud of how they turned out considering it was designed as I went along looking at my lumber pile and wondering if I will run out of material putting me way over budget if I need to purchase more.
We use those in drama class... Nice job, I would never have thought of making my own!
Thanks, I guess you improvise without them but always nice to have.
. Great job!
Nice work! and well documented.
Thanks. A more thespian inspired ible, I daresay.
good work non the less

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