In traditional theatre, a lower area located in front of the stage where the orchestra sits for musicals, ballets, opera, concerts, and the like. Predating the orchestra pit was the prompter’s box, a lowered area fitted for a person to sit comfortably with the text of the play and come to the aid of the unfortunate actor with a hole in his memory. This box was accessed from below the stage. The prompter’s head showed above the level of the stage floor, but was hidden from the audience view by a canopied box. Pictures exist showing the prompter’s box in use during the 1800s.
Most modern theatre pits are designed to be moved with hydraulic mechanisms, allowing for a useful variety of heights: lowered to audience floor level can extend seating, raised to stage level can extend the stage floor stage (creating an area known as the “apron”), lowered to basement level allows for the load-in of props and scenery from the basement.
In the case of puppet theatre, where the venue is usually on a smaller scale, a pit may offer interesting performance style opportunities. If a show is low to the ground, lowering the pit may give better sight lines. It may be possible to lower the pit so that the performers can perform overhead from within it. It could also be useful to be able to close off the pit floor with a board, with the board now becoming an area for other styles of manipulation.