I love empty theaters.
Don't get me wrong, I love walking on stage to a full house, but an empty stage is very special. Private. Personal. Rather like a new journal with an uncracked spine and pristine first page.
For my last two productions I've been lucky enough to rehearse in the auditorium where we will be performing. This is a boon from a practical point of view in that you can space things the way they will be from the get-go (however accurately a tape-out on a rehearsal room floor has been measured, it NEVER feels the same once you get onto the 3-dimensional space the real set and proscenium create), as well as become accustomed to the acoustic and sightlines in which you will be performing.
But working in the house brings more with it than just the practical matters of the physical space. Every theater in which I've ever worked has a kind of ambience to it, almost as though each prior performance has contributed its own colours to the patina of the space, and is waiting to rub off on your own, adding something you had never even thought of before. And somehow, one only really senses that in the quiet... in the private time.
When the pages are still blank, and can become anything we want them to be.