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Theatres Mag

ISSUE #26 WINTER 10

How green are the valleys? Stages of theatre development Theatre Buildings: A Design Guide Ecovenue at PLASA 2010 Showcase: Liverpool Everyman

Protecting theatres for everyone


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13 How green are the valleys? 2-5 Stages of theatre development 6-10 Theatre Buildings: A Design Guide 11-12 Showcase: Liverpool Everyman 13-16 Ecovenue at PLASA 2010 17-21

& Theatres Round-up 22-23 Current Casework 24-25 Reading Matter 26-27 Photo diary 28 Dates for your diary 28

Front cover: Royal Shakespeare Theatre Photo: RSC Theatres Magazine is edited by Paul Connolly. Š 2010 The Theatres Trust Charitable Fund. All unsigned or otherwise uncredited articles are the work of the Editor. The views expressed editorially or by correspondents in this magazine are not necessarily those of the Trust. Notes, queries and letters are always welcome. ISSN: 1759-7668 Designed by Damian Le Sueur Printed by Wyndeham Gait Limited

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European Regional Development Fund

Investing in your future


New models, new futures Mhora Samuel Director

On Saturday 27 November I was delighted to be in the audience for the ‘Builders Night’ at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The event celebrated the completion of the reinvented Royal Shakespeare Company’s home in Stratford upon Avon. For theatre buildings, these nights are quite special. They are occasions when the company pays tribute to the architects, engineers, consultants, contractors, advisers, donors, funders, and its own project staff who have played a role in realising their vision. Michael Boyd, the RSC’s Artistic Director, paid tribute to all, standing in the middle of his new thrust stage, offering asides to the audience seated to his right and left. Moving with ease around the stage, he ably demonstrated the beauty of playing into this newly embodied space. He paid a special tribute to Flip Tanner for guiding him through understanding the way in which seating arrangements would work in the new auditorium, enabling the RSC’s actors to ‘step out’ in front of the proscenium. Flip’s Churchill Fellowship research into the development of the proscenium stage informed the RSC’s Transformation project and he provides us with an overview of his research findings. The RST’s original 1932 proscenium remains as bare brick, an evocative reminder of the former Elisabeth Scott design, but there can be no doubt that the new stage provides the theatre with a powerful new heart, which sets the scene for the future of the company. I’m sure that its new stage will, for its time, be as significant as that which came before. Another theatre with a thrust stage, the Liverpool Everyman is the subject of our Showcase. Deborah Aydon describes their plans to rebuild the theatre, holding the spirit of what marks the theatre today such as its famous Bistro and thrust stage, whilst responding to the need to create a space that will take them forward and enable the Everyman to be ‘released into its future’. Theatre modelling requires careful thought and planning if it is to

be successful. In June this year the Association of British Theatre Technicians published an updated version of ‘Theatre Planning’, offering expert guidance on designing theatres. We’re grateful to architect Keith Williams and the National Theatre’s Director of Production, Technical and Engineering, John Campbell who have both offered their thoughts on this useful guide, which will inform the design of many a new theatre in times to come. The Theatres Trust continues to offer its advice and support to secure the future of theatre buildings and protecting those at risk. Our Ecovenue project, enabling 48 venues in London to become more environmentally sustainable, has now recruited 36 venues. We also had a very successful stand at PLASA 2010 in September, where we were able to disseminate news of the project’s progress. My thanks go to the many sponsors and to PLASA who helped us participate in the event. Tim Atkinson, our Theatre Building Services Adviser introduces the third cohort of 12 venues and some of the project’s findings so far. On the 27 October the Trust’s Welsh Working Party met at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff and as well as having a tour of the construction site for the college’s new theatre and concert hall, we heard from Rob Firman, architect with AustinSmith:Lord. He has been on a tour of South Wales theatres and performing arts venues and has been surveying and photographing the venues for the Trust’s Theatres Database and Image Library. As well as enabling us all to have a clearer picture of the state of theatres in Wales, he gives us a perspective on the future of Wales’s theatres, making a plea for supporting repairs and maintenance programmes, and appreciating the role that different venues play in providing access to the arts and culture, and as community facilities. This is especially pertinent in light of the UK Government’s recent financial settlement

to Wales which has thrown doubt on the level of capital funding available for projects through the Welsh Assembly Government, and through Arts Council Wales, the availability of funds to sustain an infrastructure of venues in Wales. Over the last few months it is not only national governments and arts councils that have been looking to the future and establishing ‘austerity’ budgets. Local authorities, such as Darlington and Hull, are now seriously identifying areas where they can reduce costs. There are signs that where local authorities own or manage theatres they are looking to new models where they can reduce the financial cost to the authority by proving joint services with other local authorities, transferring the ownership or operation of the theatre to a trust, or identifying new groups to run the theatre. Where authorities are reducing grants, theatres are having to consider how to manage on much reduced funding. What’s becoming clear is that, even though community, artistic and educational benefits can be argued, and it can be evidenced that the negative impact on the local economy caused by closure will leave communities worse off, funds from the public purse will be much reduced. If they are to survive theatres will need to find new financial resources, new funders, and new ways to earn income, and will need to work quickly. Reinvention, transformation and new operating models will be the only way forward for some theatres if their future is to be secured. As the year comes to a close I would like to convey the Trust’s thanks to three more Trustees whose terms of office ended recently. Jason Barnes, Marilyn Cutts and Sam Shrouder had each served for six years and their input and enthusiasm will be missed. And finally, on behalf of the Trust I would like to wish you all season’s greetings and a happy new year.


buildings and their settings, and meeting their staff to understand them properly. Despite that certain knowledge, the first step had to be to conduct an office-based study into what information currently exists about the theatres in Wales. The database I now have has been pieced together from several sources (including The Theatres Trust and websites such as www.theatrewales.co.uk, the Arts Council of Wales, Creu Cymru and those of the Welsh local authorities) and I’ve added to it by simply driving past theatres, not discovered in the desk study, as I’ve travelled around. Once I had established where all of the buildings were the road-trip commenced. The purpose and methodology as to: • visit every performance venue between Monmouth in the east and Milford Haven in the west, and between Brecon to the north and Barry to the south • take a photographic record of each one and make an assessment of the economic and physical health of the venue • complete an assessment report for The Theatres Trust to enable their on-line Theatres Database to be updated • become more knowledgeable about by chosen field of specialism in the region in which I live and practice

Town Hall, Maesteg Photos: Rob Firman

How green are the Valleys? Thoughts from a theatre road trip In the summer of 2010 architect Rob Firman undertook a tour of performing arts venues in South Wales. Here he offers his thoughts on the state of theatres in the region. As an architect specialising in buildings for the performing arts I am passionate about the conservation and future success of all theatres. Being based in Wales has presented me with an opportunity to explore a resource possibly unique in the

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United Kingdom, and earlier this year I decided to find out what I could about all of the buildings used for performing arts across South Wales. Desktop research is all well and good but it can’t beat visiting and experiencing

Since the end of June 2010 I have visited 30 venues of the 46 venues outside Cardiff and Swansea, focussing on the valleys to the north of the M4. Next will be visits to the venues from Carmarthen out to Milford Haven and Fishguard followed by the cities of Swansea, Newport and Cardiff to close and complete the study. The aim is to complete all visits before the end of this year so that all assessments and records I make are contemporaneous. The most surprising finding so far is that there are so many buildings in this relatively small geographical area. It’s also surprising that not all of them have listed status, although listing is not necessarily a guarantee of protection. For example the Theatre Royal in Merthyr Tydfil, listed Grade II, is in severe danger of being lost through neglect and dereliction, and there are as many venues who regard listing as a hindrance to development of their venues as there are those who see it a valuable recognition of the significance of their buildings. It is clear however from many examples found on this trip that through appropriate consultation with


Workmen’s Hall, Blaengarw

Cadw excellent results can be achieved and our theatre buildings sensitively brought up to 21st century standards. The venues of the South Wales Valleys fall broadly into two broad categories. In the first category are those built by the communities of miners and iron and steelworkers for themselves, often using their own money from the ‘penny in the pound’ wage deduction savings scheme paid into communal building funds. Where did these largely uneducated men find the ambition to make so many unique buildings from? I have nothing but admiration for the sheer guts and astonishing vision of the people who raised the money and commissioned buildings like the Park & Dare in Treorchy, the Memo in Newbridge and The Miners’ Theatre in Ammanford. Then there is a second group, built by wealthy individuals or by local authorities, including Maesteg Town Hall (built by a prosperous Authority in the thriving market town in 1881); Parc Hall in Cwmparc near Treorchy (gifted by Lord David Davies of Llandinam, owner of the Ocean Coal Company, to his workforce in 1908); and The Adelina Patti Theatre at Craig-Y-Nos built in 1891 to enable the opera diva to entertain her house guests. Today there are further issues that separate the venues into different groups, including who now owns, manages or operates them and the various approaches to the nature of use and shows or events that sustain them. The majority are now in the care of local authorities. Some are owned, managed and operated directly while others are operated by charitable trusts or management companies granted long

Parc Hall, Treorchy

leases whilst the local authority retains responsibility for repair and maintenance of the building fabric. Some remain in private ownership. Some have become essential stops on national and international tours and others are focused on serving their immediate local communities. These different approaches are producing a range of levels of support and success. Some venues receive substantial financial support while others appear to have less and find it difficult to plan for their long term future. Those in private ownership seem to be struggling most of all and some are resorting to non-theatrical events and activities to sustain them as viable businesses. What appears to be happening in respect of artistic offering is that a large proportion of these venues compete with each other for audiences and this approach is potentially a threat to some because a venue a few miles away is better supported, more comfortable for the audience or easier to access by touring companies pressed for time between appearances. Creu Cymru was established by the sector in 2001 to help overcome such issues but not all venues are members. It is obvious that the majority of any revenue earned or funding granted to venues is spent on product before fabric and general building maintenance, and there are no proactive planned maintenance strategies in place anywhere. Often it is a case of wait till something breaks then fix it if we can afford to. This approach is resulting in a steadily deteriorating building stock, getting ever worse. Time will run out for some of our theatre buildings unless something

considered and sustained is put in place soon to ensure they don’t disappear through neglect. Before I started this trip I suspected that the majority of the current owners and management of these venues would have concerns about issues such as accessibility and heating, ventilation and general energy consumption worries. I genuinely thought they would spend more than they do on maintaining their buildings. Almost every place I’ve visited has things the management would improve about the physical fabric of their venues. Generally every venue does what it can to maintain the best possible environment for performers, audience and staff and the vast majority do a great job with the limited means at their disposal. There are very few of the older venues where front-of-house accessibility is fully in line with current statutory requirements although awareness of the Disability Discrimination Act (now covered by the Equalities Act 2010) is widespread and a genuine concern. Indeed a large number of venues are actively making improvements to this aspect of their buildings and sensitively integrating access for all into their facilities. What did surprise me in many venues I’ve visited was just how poor their back-ofhouse facilities are. Most productions that are staged in these venues are probably either local amateur dramatic, operatic and choral societies or small itinerant travelling companies who simply put up with having to prepare for their performance in whatever spaces are provided. That so many venues still have out-dated and uncomfortable backstage facilities must be an issue to focus some attention on.

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Theatre Royal, Merthyr Tydfil

Loading bays are frequently presenting operational difficulties. When first opened, shows presented at these venues would generally be built as bespoke installations on stage and thrown away afterwards or, if touring across many venues would be delivered on carts or flat-bed trucks with a much higher axle height than today’s vans and trucks. Compounding this is an architectural approach that consistently located the auditorium and stage at first floor level and the topography of many sites so now loading and unloading 21st century visiting shows can be a logistical nightmare. Many venues probably contravene manual handling restrictions defined by current Health and Safety legislation. Surely some attention to this could bring longer term benefits to our theatres. Ultimately it depends on the nature of the products being toured and ticket sales resulting from a potentially wider range and greater availability of shows, but if we can improve loading facilities we could increase the number of shows in a run leading to more revenue for the producers and venues, which ultimately achieves payback for the investment and enhances the chances of survival of the venues that take this action. Any theatre that ends up derelict is a tragedy and I was surprised to find any at all in this country renowned the world over for its cultural heritage. However there are six that I’ve found so far that are derelict and two of those would appear to be on the brink of disappearing for good. The four standing derelict are the Theatre Royal, Merthyr Tydfil, the Palace Theatre, 1 2

Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl

Swansea, Cwmmamman Workmen’s Hall, Garnant, and the Town Hall, Pontypridd. The two already apparently lost are the Little Theatre in Abedare and the Theatre Royal in Barry, although a vociferous campaign to save the latter is gathering support. To bring these venues back into viable use will take incredible energy and funds that may be difficult to find. There have been many theatres in Wales lost over recent decades and the risk of losing more is ever present. During this trip I have found some perilously close to oblivion for reasons as diverse as fear of imminent structural collapse through lack of investment in maintenance, to those simply being unable to programme events that attract audiences. I wonder how many will be left if I repeat this road trip in 2020? Now that this record is being assembled, it’s impossible not to consider what it might be used for. In its ‘One Wales’ policy1 the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) has stated its aim that ‘high quality cultural experiences are available to all people, irrespective of where they live or their background’ and set targets to be achieved by 2010. One of the targets set was ‘to ensure first rate accessible facilities exist throughout Wales’ and it states that ‘the major opportunity for Wales over the next decade lies in developing the infrastructure of our cultural assets and trying to make them sustainable in the longer term’. In one of the few mentions of buildings in the 66-page document, it also states ‘we should review the stage capacity in Wales, looking at the condition and standard of theatre buildings

and equipment, identify the gaps in provision and remedy them’. In their own progress update published in June 20102 there is no mention of any progress made towards achieving these objectives. So is there any evidence in the venues I’ve visited of these targets and policy objectives being realised and delivered in 2010? Broadly the answer to this question is yes, but it’s a qualified yes because it is by no means certain that it’s happening because of government action. High quality cultural experiences are definitely being provided right across this region of Wales but they could be improved still further, with a focus on the building stock. Perhaps the results of this study could now be used to help in the prioritising of commitments. This could sit well with the WAGs ongoing support for capital projects to protect employment in the construction industry. As ever, one suspects that the benefits of a strategic investment of any kind in this remarkable cultural and heritage asset could have spin-off effects across a wide spectrum of our society and economy. Perhaps it is timely that the Arts Council of Wales, having published its strategic funding review in the early summer, is about to turn its attention to a review of its capital investment programme. Can this research perhaps be used to catalyse or encourage the preparation of an assessment of repairs and upgrades that the entire existing building stock requires to get it all compliant with current legislation and better able to serve audiences and

Welsh Assembly Government strategy document, ‘Creative Future - a Culture Strategy for Wales’, published 2002 Welsh Assembly Government Progress Report, ‘One Wales Delivery Plan 2007 - 2011’

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Memo, Newbridge

Patti Theatre, Craig -Y-Nos

performers for the foreseeable future? Could such an assessment be priced and be used to prioritise repairs and upgrades at a local, regional and even national level, and could the prioritised assessments be used to inform decisions from funding agencies and statutory bodies to ensure the survival of these buildings? Now that there is such a record available for all interested parties to access and refer to, perhaps it could be used to reinforce the work and membership of Creu Cymru and perhaps we can identify centres of excellence in strategic geographic locations that specialise in one particular art form as some undoubtedly could. We could have a number of state-of-the-art dance centres to support the burgeoning dance

Savoy Theatre, Monmouth

organisations across these valleys, centres focussing on drama, opera, musical theatre and live music. There would be no reason why all venues that currently present a wide range of events and art forms shouldn’t continue to do so but tours could be directed to those centres of excellence for the benefit of both the interested audience and the performers. Theatre people are used to adopting a ‘make do and mend’ approach to their venues but this may not be sustainable for several of the venues visited so far. If nothing else we need to take the maintenance of their fabric and opportunities to reduce their energy consumption seriously now or risk losing more venues over the next decade. It

would be a wonderful outcome if we are able to use it to inform decision making that will extend the life or even ensure the survival of all extant venues. This research has only been possible because of the support of the community of people whose tireless energy and enthusiasm keeps our theatre and performing arts buildings in Wales operational and I am eternally grateful for the hospitality extended to me at every one of the venues I have visited. My thanks also to my employer Austin:SmithLord and The Theatres Trust for their encouragement to keep going. Rob Firman is Director of Performing Arts Projects at Austin-Smith:Lord LLP, Cardiff

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Teatro Farnese Photos: Flip Tanner, courtesy of the Ministero per i Beni and le Attività cultarali, Galleria Nazionale di Parma

Stages in theatre development

guild made up of nobility and professionals and had a particular focus on science and the arts. One of its objectives said, “every Flip Tanner, Project Co-ordinator for the RSC’s Transformation member desires to learn all the sciences Project outlines the findings from his Churchill Fellowship and especially mathematics”. The debate about classical theatre design had been research into the evolution of the proscenium stage. raging for a while and was prompted by the 2006 Whilst working on the designs for the Italy, France, Spain and the USA and was texts and plays that had emerged in Italy able to discover for myself the chronology new Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-uponfrom the monastic libraries and the collapse of events in theatre building that led to the Avon, the RSC’s Press Office asked me a of the Byzantine Empire. Contributors to evolving relationship between the stage and the debate thus far had included eminent question: “When did the first proscenium the proscenium. stage come about?” After muttering artists such as Raphael, Leonardo De Vinci, something about the Restoration and Bramante, Alberti and Brunelleschi: no 1580 Palladio was at the height of his career wonder then that the resultant genre would ducking a specific answer, I decided to go and a leading member of The Accademia and find out. Having secured a Churchill be so dominated by scenography. Olimpica in Vicenza when he convinced his Fellowship from the Winston Churchill Palladio, in the spirit of the society’s colleagues that they should build a theatre. Memorial Trust I undertook a research trip articles, set about using a classical around the historically important theatres in The Accademia was sort of intellectual geometry for the design of the theatre.

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Teatro Farnese

Vitruvius had been in print 100 years prior, the Roman’s book De Architecture has a section on theatre design. The construction of Teatro Olimpico began in 1580 but Palladio died, aged 72, in the August of that year, leaving his one-time apprentice, and architect in his own right, Vincenzo Scamozzi to complete his master’s vision. It wasn’t a green field site but a former prison yard and Palladio had to squash Vitruvius’s pure geometry to fit the new theatre inside the available envelope. Most scholars agree that Scamozzi stayed true to Palladio’s intent until we reach what some might call the proscenium. I say some, as it’s more akin to a monumental arch; a large central door flanked by two smaller openings. Evident in many Roman theatres (the ruins of one were still available for Palladio to study on the outskirts of Vicenza) this reference has links beyond theatre design back to the Roman triumphal arch, with the large central door for the returning victorious emperor and one each side for the armies. Scamozzi’s influence begins upstage of the openings where he responds to the dominant theme in Renaissance Italy at the time and provides a picture in perspective; not two-dimensional but three. He expands on Palladio’s single perspective with a number of roads in perspective to represent the seven roads of Thebes. To animate the opening performance of Oedipus Tyrannous children of varying sizes were hired to stand in the part of the scene appropriate to their scale. The scenery (not the actors) was lit by oil lamps fixed on flimsy metal brackets just behind the timber reveals. The curtain went up at 11.00pm and the show finished at 3:00 am the next morning.

The show was a complete flop yet lighting and the scenery had an excellent review, in fact the scenery and the room were so successful they remain today. Almost the next day the theatre became principally a museum with occasional events, mostly musical rather than dramatic. One might argue that it was this that saved the building for us to study today. Were it to have been used as a theatre proper it would have surely been burnt down given the very dubious lighting techniques! 1580 London’s playhouses at this time included The Red Lion, Saint Paul’s, The Curtain and The Theatre. The latter two were similar in design to the replica Globe theatre on Bankside ; The Theatre (1576) would eventually become the Globe when it was dismantled and rebuilt south of the Thames, and The Curtain (1577) another open air theatre in competition with it just up the road. Elizabeth I was on the throne and 22 years in the job. Her father, Henry VIII, had seen to it that England stood apart in Europe and remote from the fashions in other European courts, in particular the events in Italy. The principle difference from Italy was that the English stage was a commercial enterprise and the design therefore encouraged a ‘packing them in’ approach. The events on the stage differed too. In London one would go to ‘hear a play’ by a ‘poet’ and once there share the experience with all strata of society, whereas in Italy guests were invited to ‘see’ a production along with other citizens of the same social class. 1590 The Duke of Sabbioneta had made his fortune as military architect to Philip II of Spain and decided to create his own

version of Rome in an enclave of northern Italy controlled by the Spanish state. He hired Scamozzi to design a theatre. As at Vicenza, the Teatro Olimpico at Sabbioneta was not built as a public theatre but as a private space for an invited audience - and the entertainment would often as not feature the Duke himself. Scamozzi would have been well connected to the Duke as the Ducal families had funded the Accademia since their conception. Unlike at Vicenza, however, the stage here responded to the now well established trend of a scenic stage, with the stage as a machine. A visit to Sabbioneta now reveals a standing set with no proscenium, although Scamozzi’s original plans suggest a proscenium arch, which would provide masking to the machine behind. 1590 London’s ‘Theatreland’ had shifted south of the Thames and out of the administrative control of the City of London. The Globe was assembled from the timbers of The Theatre, which became the home of the Admiral’s Men. The Rose, The Swan, and The Fortune all joined the London theatre stock. These were mostly open air playhouses where the actors are surrounded on three sides by patrons, with the notable exception of the Blackfriars Theatre, which was an indoor playhouse and much more ‘end stage’ in the engagement between player and patron. The Court was regularly commanding and paying for productions at Court: an essential funding source during the plague closures. With the death of Elizabeth I and the arrival of James I as King, Inigo Jones was dispatched to Vicenza in 1603, and again 10 years later, to study Palladio’s work. The result of this study was the

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Teatro Olimpico, Sabbionetta

construction of Banqueting House on London’s Whitehall, which became the venue for that already popular European entertainment, the Masque. London had similarities to the Italian theatres at the proscenium zone. Most academics agree that both Blackfriars and the Globe had a large central opening flanked by two smaller, a development from the earlier booth stage and the hall screens. The booth stage was evident in contemporary paintings illustrating a temporary platform (often called a pageant wagon) with a tended rear stage offering a large central curtained entrance from it. The hall screens were a type of temporary masking with openings used when an existing great hall was the venue

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for a production often placed just beyond the doors into the hall along one of the narrow ends. 1618 Meanwhile back in Italy another Duke, this time, the Duke of Palma commissioned Giovanni Battista Aleotti to design a theatre to celebrate the visit of an important dignitary. Unfortunately the visit was cancelled and it was another ten years before the Duke had an event worthy of the new theatre; the marriage of his son. Teatro Farnese like Vicenza was a refit of an existing building: a former military exercise hall within the palace was the location, and its original use can still be seen in the fine equine staircase that was originally used to get horses from

the stables to the exercise hall eighteen metres above. The stairs were put to use again in the theatre to bring horses to take part in the Horse Ballet, one of just seven events that took place in the theatre. And just as at Vicenza and Sabbioneta, the venue has spent more of its life as a museum than as a performance space. The events that took place in Farnese were a type of masque deluxe including music and lavish costume sometimes described as opera torneu, the Horse Carousel and staged tableau with music among them. The scale of this room is enormous and the human form has a very insignificant impact on the room so communicating to the distant audience form this stage would require a massive vocal and physical


Then there were the regular appearances at court, an essential source of income, especially when the playhouses were closed by the plague. The strong link was evident in 1625 when 15 of the King’s Men were furnished with livery so they could take part in King James funeral procession. This closeness was to be theatres eventual undoing and as Charles’s court fled London in 1642 the theatre community was exposed and an easy target for the new Puritan regime. Just at the moment when we might have experienced a fusion in the design of auditoria between the heritage of the Elizabethan stage (with patrons surrounding the stage) and the desire for the pictures, the whole lot was closed down by the new regime.

Blackfriars Theatre

performance. No wonder then that the art from that was soon flourish in rooms like this would be opera. 1633 Back in London it was to be another five years before what most historians agree was the first performance in front of painted scenery. The court in this period commissioned productions where professional players such as the King’s Men would perform with scenery, and although these were temporary fit-ups inside large rooms, such as Denmark House or Somerset House, they marked the arrival of the new fashion for pictures and the theatre of illusion: an exciting new visual art form into a world where until now people had gone to hear rather than see a play. The

English playhouses had previously been the place where the poet would transport the listener to either Padua or Agincourt through imagination rather than a literal representation. The prologue to Henry V is a useful clue to Shakespeare’s take on the issue. ‘Think when we talk of horses, that you see them Printing their proud hoofs i’ the receiving earth’ As they say the best pictures are on the radio. The movement in this latter period, if one can be detected, is towards private playhouses rather than public, and mostly indoors. Over time theatre companies had forged closer and closer links with the Monarchy; initially royal patronage gave them immunity from the vagrancy laws.

Act I In 1879, well over 200 years after the closure of the theatres the first permanent theatre for the Royal Shakespeare Company arrived: a 600-seat proscenium house funded by Charles Flower the local brewer. His dauntless energy for gathering funds including significant amounts of his own earned him the title ‘self -raising Flower’. The theatre was a reflection of its time complete with blue Horton stone pillars framing the proscenium, Christina yellow pine dado framing for the orchestra pit, stalls and gallery, lit by a sun burner of 250 gas lights, and reported to be not unlike a non-conformist chapel, complete with clerestory windows. There was no question that it would be anything other than a proscenium house, the dominant form of the age: the Old Vic London being the unchallenged home of Shakespeare during this period. It’s worth remembering the Victorian fashion for making Shakespeare palatable by setting it to music and sometimes giving it a happy ending. George Bernard Shaw’s review of the auditorium was: “The Memorial Theatre is an admirable building, adapted for every conceivable purpose - except that of a theatre”. Act II A year after Shaw’s critical letter, the RSC had a chance to rectify the problem when the Memorial Theatre burnt to the ground. Following an architectural design competition the commission was awarded to Elizabeth Scott who proposed a one thousand seat proscenium house. The brief had called for a building simple and beautiful – a monument worthy of its purpose. Ben Iden Payne had led a lobby for the auditorium to be in the Elizabethan form, but requests regarding the interior of the theatre, from theatre professionals, were put to one side as ‘it might restrict the design for the potential applicants’! The resultant theatre

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The original Memorial Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

has been described as many things, the most unkind being ‘a monumental turkey’. It was essentially a victim of its age; the age of cinema. William Bridges-Adams, the former director of the Stratford-upon-Avon Festival, was to write of the auditorium; “of all the theatres in England, it is the hardest to make an audience laugh or cry,’ Act III If one was able to stand far enough back from the present, I hope we may be able to observe some differences compared to the past. For today is a time where the theatre of illusion and the picture frame has come of age in its own discreet art form - namely cinema. Today we acknowledge the difference between the two art forms, particularly in how

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they engage with an audience, be it an individual or shared experience. We are at the end of a theatre building boom where we can call on experienced specialist architects and theatre consultants who properly address the requirements for performance and encourage innovation. Yet despite all this in their new theatre the RSC’s thrust stage sits in front of a proscenium opening they have chosen to retain! Is it a useful portal for introducing scenic items like the rear stage in the Elizabethan houses? Or more importantly, a reminder of the past, a ghost, a relic, a museum piece? Perhaps the RSC now has the opportunity denied to the King’s Men in 1642 to experiment; where the theatre of

word and the theatre of pictures can meld into a new way of telling those old stories. But that cannot be true, surely, because as the saying goes “there is nothing new in show business”. From February 2011, the RSC’s Ensemble presents the first full Shakespeare productions in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. After 19 years at the RSC Flip Tanner will be joining Fisher Dachs Associates, one of the world’s leading theatre planning and design practices. He will be working with FDA clients in the UK and Europe from the Stratford upon Avon office from January 2011


Theatre Buildings: A Design Guide Rod Ham’s ‘Theatres’, published in 1972, was the first established guide to theatre design. It was revised in 1986 and has now been substantially rewritten by the Association of British Theatre Technicians. We asked Keith Williams and John Campbell to offer their own particular perspectives on the book. The architect’s perspective: Keith Williams This book is a much needed update of Roderick Ham’s original 1972 book on the subject, which was last revised in 1986 as Theatres: Planning Guidance for Design

and Adaptation. It was the definitive work, lasting nearly a quarter of a century before this update. There are two other works which have trodden similar ground though with perhaps different emphasis. Ian Appleton’s

Buildings for the Performing Arts: A Design and Development Guide first published in 1996 and updated for its second edition in 2008 is a pretty useful book. The other is a collection in three volumes of the ABTT London conference of 2002 published in 2004 by Theatrical Events Ltd. Edited by Richard Brett, it suffers from the over complexity of a record of a conference, but is otherwise as in-depth an exploration as you might wish for. I should also mention Michael Hammond’s lavish tome Performing Architecture, Opera Houses, Theatres and Concert Halls for the Twenty-First Century published in 2006 by Merrell. It is altogether glossier and is much more show and tell and not intended as an instructive guide through the complexities of commissioning or designing these exceptionally complicated buildings. I add this only that as a record of reference projects (which Theatre Buildings also includes) it covers the subject rather well. It is important to recognise that Theatre Buildings: A Design Guide, does not set out to be an anthology of contemporary (and some restored) theatres nor every aspect of the practice of making them, and Mark White, Chairman of the ABTT in his forward acknowledges that with such books there is always a difficulty of what to include and what to omit. The book is divided into ten sections dealing with preliminary planning and broad principles through the design of the major spaces such as the auditorium and stage house, key technical spaces for lighting, sound and video, backstage areas and supplementary spaces. There is a useful chapter on the reworking of existing theatres and the complexities of upgrading those to modern standards, which is fiendishly difficult. The book ends with a series of 28 reference projects from the UK and overseas. The contributors are some of the most informed practitioners working on this building type. These include those involved in the arts business, strategic planning, space planning, and technical design, including a number of architects. Their shared expertise is cogently recorded and set out in a clearly understandable fashion. Any tendency to take one into every last corner of detail has rightly been resisted by the editorship of Judith Strong. I am particularly pleased to see in the section on preliminary planning that the inherent inefficiency of theatre buildings compared with other building types is

Theatres Magazine WINTER 2010 11


discussed. This “grossing factor” as it is known can sometimes be as high a multiple as 1.5 or even 1.65 of the net area of the building. Those planning and costing projects so often get this very wrong at the project outset, and an understanding of this point is fundamental to scale and cost. Playing to the strengths of the ABTT, strong chapters as would be expected come from the technical side of the theatre industry, notably the technology and planning of the stage house and the sound and video systems. The generic plan and sectional solutions for tricky areas such as the sound and lighting positions, and the orchestra pit, and the disposition of lighting and sound rigs within the auditorium are very clear and precisely recorded with useful detail. The section on reference projects would have benefitted from an introduction to the set the context of the choice i.e. why these 28 reference projects? Each building reviewed is presumably there to illustrate a point but it seems to me that a number of key projects have been omitted to the detriment of the subject. These would at least include the refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall by Allies and Morrison, the Casa de Musica by OMA in Porto and The Unicorn Theatre, London by my firm each a seminal work and which, it seems to me, demonstrate key lessons in the design or remodelling of performing arts buildings against particular cultural and technical backgrounds. Each reference project in the book, does however have a series of summary notes and dimensional data which are very useful, and whilst the idea of producing all the drawings of the various projects in a similar though not rigorously executed style, and at the same scale of 1:500 is interesting, the drawings of the smallest such as the Egg in Bath, tend to be too small and those of the largest barely fit on the page. The attendant drawn scale in each case is too small to be usefully legible. In a number of cases the photographs are also rather too small to get a real sense of the project, which is a shame as many of them have been published before with a greater degree of visual clarity. So, on the whole I think this section could have been improved upon. So who exactly is this book aimed at? Clearly anyone thinking of carrying out a major capital project – one is tempted to wonder will there be any such projects in this country in the near future - but that

12 WINTER 2010 Theatres Magazine

does not invalidate the book. And it is without doubt an essential guide for clients, project managers, architects, quantity surveyors and builders, as well as others concerned with creating these buildings. The book is logically formatted, clearly laid out, and guides one comfortably through the process of designing one of the most complicated building types (both culturally and technically) that can be created. The ABTT has done important work in updating this essential reference work. It does not seek to provide all the answers but it should form a key element in the library of anyone involved in making theatre buildings. The theatre technician’s perspective: John Campbell There are many books in the theatrical field, covering the totally diverse range of skills and knowledge. To attempt to bring it all into one is an ambitious proposal and compromises are inevitably required. However the forward by Mark White, ABTT Chairman, captures the purpose of this book very well in saying, “This book is a prompt for those who know and an education for those who don’t”. Its ten sections describe all the areas that constitute a theatre and most importantly, the inter-relationships and dependencies that are required for a successful space. It is rare nowadays to start a theatre project from a green field site, yet this book deals with every element of a theatre, and describes a check list of ideals, of issues to be considered, design requirements and inter relationships that would ensure that such Utopian green field development would avoid the errors made in theatre design, both from the past and the present. To this end therefore, a key audience for this book are the key stakeholders in theatrical development. With this book to hand there is little excuse for neglecting to consider all elements required of a scheme. The technical elements of theatre are dealt with in two of the ten sections. This is hardly enough space to deal with the real technical challenges of modern equipment, but in line with the framework outlined above it sets out key principles for infrastructure design, control positions, types of machinery and broad requirements. The technical sections are aimed at providing a description of the commonly used terminology and descriptions for key equipment which are very useful. These sections describe

the major principles of what technical equipment should achieve, and how it should achieve it, whilst avoiding the discussion surrounding the ongoing rapidity of digital equipment development! This is not therefore, a book for practiced technical staff that are looking to enhance their particular technical skills. So whilst the above comments appear to suggest this is a key book for those venues with new or refurbishment schemes, there are key points in here for other readers. The interconnectivity and dependencies in theatre would suggest that all staff should have a broad understanding of all technical, FOH, production and engineering requirements and as one source of all that information this book is ideal. I would recommend this as a good general read for all people in all aspects of the theatre. Furthermore, for those managers and staff working in existing, working theatres it is often the case that familiarity introduces an element of acceptance over prolonged periods of time. To those managers, I would recommend this book as a good point of reference to the broad design desirables and current practices. Utilising this information any theatre organisation can assess less than desirable conditions. It would allow practices which have become acceptable through the passage of time to be questioned, and reviewed, so this book is a great tool to map out an improvement programme for theatre spaces, subject of course to available funding. Finally, the 28 reference projects are useful just to highlight the variety of successful ways that key design requirements can be achieved. From my perspective, the layout diagrams and dimensions allow a sense of scale and cross comparison which is most useful. This book is a key piece of reference for the theatrical world. Keith Williams is founder and director of design at Keith Williams Architects. His performing arts projects include the Birmingham REP remodelling, The Unicorn Theatre, London, Wexford Opera House, Ireland, and the New Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, currently under construction. The firm is currently working on a strategic masterplan for the Fairfield Halls in Croydon. John Campbell is Director of Production, Technical and Engineering at the National Theatre, London.


Photo: Ian Grundy

Liverpool Everyman As Liverpool Everyman prepares for its £28 million redevelopment Executive Director, Deborah Aydon, recalls the genesis of the project and looks to the building’s future. It’s called the Everyman, and it’s on Hope Street: two names which can’t help but resonate and inspire. At this point in the journey, as we move ahead with plans for the Everyman’s new incarnation through decidedly interesting times, inclusivity and optimism are two of our driving forces. The other, of course, is high quality, always ambitious and adventurous work. There isn’t space here to list all that we do - though do have a browse on www.everymanplayhouse.com if you’d like to know more - but I will start with a whistle-stop historical tour to put our plans into context. First of all, it’s important to know that the Everyman and Playhouse theatres are now managed and programmed together. Each had gone through extreme funding difficulties in the 1990s, which caused two voluntary liquidations, the sale of the Everyman’s buildings and a prolonged closure for the Playhouse. Then in 1999, a Trust was formed to create and deliver a new model, with a new vision, for a new century. Our plans for the Everyman are part of a holistic artistic vision, business

plan and redevelopment scheme for these two theatres, which are very different and a mile apart. The Playhouse was built as a music hall in 1866, remodelled on the formation of the Liverpool Repertory Theatre (one of the country’s first reps) in 1911, and complemented by a then-radical and still architecturally interesting full-height foyer annexe in 1968. The building as a whole is now Grade II* listed, and is on a small, landlocked, city centre site. The Everyman was built as a chapel - Hope Hall - in 1836, and went through numerous incarnations including a temperance hall and an early arthouse cinema before becoming the pioneering theatre that we now know and love. In 1964, three fresh-faced drama graduates - Terry Hands, Peter James and Martin Jenkins - used passion, persuasion, guile, grim determination and the sleepless nights and bruised thumbs of the first repertory company to create a new type of theatre. Peter James has said of those early days, “None of us thought it was going to be alive after six months. It was a bit of a lark, really”. Well, if that isn’t an auspicious start then I don’t know what is. From its early days emphasising classic plays for young people and schools audiences (part vision, part pragmatism - the beat club in the basement meant you couldn’t hear yourself think most evenings, never mind appreciate the nuances of Shakespeare or Pinter, so matinee performances dominated) the Everyman carved its own niche. It moved on through the socially-engaged days of Alan Dossor and John McGrath, when an astonishing

roster of talent was nurtured here - Alan Bleasdale, Matthew Kelly, Bill Nighy, Pete Postlethwaite, Jonathan Pryce, Willy Russell, Antony Sher, Alison Steadman, Julie Walters, the list goes on and on. This was the only theatre in the country with the courage to give Ken Campbell control of the tiller as Artistic Director. A short regime, admittedly, but one which proved that rigour and insanity can be enormously productive and inspiring bedfellows. Glen Walford took up the baton and created large-scale, provocative theatre which used music in a new and integral way. The Everyman Youth Theatre was the springboard for talents such as Stephen Graham, Ian Hart, David Morrissey and Cathy Tyson as well as the crucible for plays such as Willy Russell’s Our Day Out which continue to inspire young people and delight audiences of all ages. Despite funding problems in the 1990s it presented regional premieres of the most interesting new plays and spawned a comedy club whose creators are now leading the regeneration of Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre as described in these pages in the summer. Fast-forward to 2003 and something extraordinary was happening in Liverpool. The city, which had personified some of the worst depredations of the eighties and nineties and become the butt of many a cruel joke and football chant had developed an improbable and perhaps outrageous sense of possibility. For the first time in decades it was looking forward and thinking big - bidding for European Capital of Culture; greenlighting a massive and innovative redevelopment of the city’s entire retail

Theatres Magazine WINTER 2010 13


Photo: Ian Grundy

core; pitching for World Heritage status. And it had the last laugh. It got the lot. It was at this point that Gemma Bodinetz and I caught the Liverpool bug. Gripped to the point of creative intoxication by the sense of optimism abroad in the city, we persuaded the theatres’ board to back our own ambitious mission for the two theatres and, to coin that resonant phrase of the city’s past, to “gizza job”. Our appointment coincided with Liverpool winning the Capital of Culture title for 2008, which added urgency to our stated mission, which was, essentially, to create our dream theatre company. It also meant that the City Council and Arts Council England (ACE) were prepared to pedal hard alongside

14 WINTER 2010 Theatres Magazine

us and to follow their own advice to us in the early years: ‘hold your nerve’. It’s well known that in Liverpool - as in every other city that has really taken a tilt at being a Capital of Culture - the road to our special year was a very bumpy one. But it was also a time of great inspiration, imagination, and the sense that things could change radically, for the better, and in a profound and lasting way. Right from the beginning, all of us involved in Capital of Culture were thinking deeply and laterally about what that means, as a springboard to a new era for the city and its culture. You know what happened next. Liverpool played a blinder. The artistic programme was world class. The city

shot up the tourism league table and its image was transformed. Squillions were generated in economic impact. The people of Liverpool got involved in unprecedented numbers in events from chamber opera to a giant spider crawling over the city. Back of the net. But - and I’ll drop the footballing metaphors very soon as I’m way out of my depth - it’s what happened after the final whistle that really counts. The quality, ambition and scale of the city’s artistic output has sustained and even built on the level achieved in 2008. Audiences have stayed engaged and have kept growing in number, diversity and loyalty. All the bodies driving the city forward - the City Council


of course, but also tourism, regeneration, business development and inward investment agencies across the cityregion - now see culture as the central pillar of future success. At grass roots level, hugely impactful and innovative programmes are engaging young people in previously isolated parts of the city and breaking cycles of deprivation. Liverpool is leading the way in groundbreaking partnership working between the health and culture sectors during 2010’s Year of Health and Wellbeing. The redevelopment of the Everyman is an essential component of the legacy that we are all building for Liverpool’s propulsive moment as European Capital of Culture.

As the old adage goes, necessity is the mother of invention. So first, the necessity. The Everyman building - Hope Hall, as was - is a crumbling, leaky building with a dodgy roof, ancient electrics, no ventilation and regularly collapsing seats. It has minimal technical facilities, appalling access for the physically disabled, horrible dressing rooms, no rehearsal space, no workshop, nowhere for our writers’ groups to convene, no office space. There is nowhere to house our vast and ever-growing participatory work with community groups and schools or to rebuild our shrunken Youth Theatre programme for the 21st century. We earn virtually nothing from onsite catering;

sponsors turn up their nose before quickly turning tail, and the building can only really engage those who fell in love with it before its metaphorical wrinkles, sagging and angina set in. And so to the invention. The road to here has been a long and winding one, and there have been many figurative brick walls to blast our way through in preparation for doing so literally next year. For the sake of keeping you interested and keeping me sane, I won’t dwell on any of those. To sum up the project’s prehistory in a sentence: a 2003 feasibility study which recommended abandoning both buildings and creating a new facility on a new site at a cost of what would now be £100-120 million

Theatres Magazine WINTER 2010 15


came quite quickly to feel wrong. Not only because the price-tag was so challenging, but because the renaissance in the theatres’ programme, audience and sense of possibility made each of the existing sites feel , well, right. It was at this point that we started working with the architects, Haworth Tompkins. Readers of Theatres Magazine will be very aware of their work, as were we, and, having heard Steve Tompkins speak at a conference about his collaborative approach to the (other) Royal Court; I had a strong sense that this was someone who could help us to get this right. This was a critical turning point. With architect’s vision and x-ray eyes, Haworth Tompkins could see possibility in our buildings - or sites - that we could not. This coincided with ACE having funded our purchase of the building next door to the Everyman, which opened up the possibility of creating facilities there that could serve both theatres as well as the work - such as participation and artist development - that isn’t directly connected to one or the other. This new creative impetus made it possible to persuade ACE and the North West Development Agency (NWDA) to fund a feasibility study into a scheme for the two existing sites. Another fast-forward: to 31st March 2008. This was the day when we simultaneously signed off the feasibility study for the holistic scheme for our two sites and bought back the freehold on the Everyman building. The date is memorable to me because NWDA’s funding for the purchase (75% of what we needed) would have disappeared at close of business that day. We completed at 4.36pm. I still have the text from our solicitor, which makes me want to laugh, cry and vomit simultaneously. You’ll appreciate that I very rarely look at it. And so to the penultimate fastforward: to now. Haworth Tompkins and the rest of a remarkable design and project team have worked closely and intensively with us to arrive at what those in the trade - as I suppose I can pretend to be for a while - call RIBA Stage D design. We secured planning permission in the summer, after a very extensive consultation process. We’re tantalisingly close to the £25 million public funding (please don’t ask) and forging ahead with raising £2.1 million from a private fundraising campaign (please do: development@everymanplayhouse.com).

16 WINTER 2010 Theatres Magazine

The final leap in time takes us to 2013 and the new Everyman. Throughout our long and detailed work with the design team we have always wanted to help the Everyman to become itself, but more so. Images of phoenixes and flames, butterflies and chrysalises spring frequently to mind, as a way of releasing the Everyman from the constraints of its current physical self and allowing it to be all it can be. The Everyman generates an enormous emotional charge and the moment when remove the existing building will be almost unbearably potent. But we know - and after years of consultation, tours, presentations and intense one-on-one conversations we think those who also feel that charge also know - it has to happen if the Everyman is to be released into its future. The new building will have all the facilities that the Everyman currently lacks, and these facilities will also support the Playhouse and serve the participation and artist development programmes that aren’t currently accommodated on either site. The 400-seat thrust auditorium will have hugely enhanced audience comfort and contemporary technical facilities including a fly-tower and thrust flying grid, modular stage, and the possibility of adapting to different formats to respond to directors’ and designers’ imaginations. A dedicated Youth and Community Space will be in operation 24/7 and a large Green Room will provide a meeting point for everyone working in the building, from the acting company through the theatres’ staff to participants in outreach and education activities. Rehearsal space, good dressing rooms, workshop facilities and office space will be on this site for the first time and a Writers’ Hub will provide a haven for playwrights to meet and work in. All the public spaces will be accessible, welcoming and lend themselves to being inhabited throughout the day as well as at show times. The legendary basement Bistro will be complemented by a ground-floor cafe with outdoor tables and an airy, light-filled theatre bar. Front- and back-of-house spaces will be available for all manner of uses, from writers’ groups’ sessions to hospitality and hires, and we can at last increase earned income to support artistic development. The building as a whole will be an energised, inclusive, creative hub which will contribute to the unique vibrancy of Hope Street and to Liverpool’s overall offer to residents and visitors.

There are two special elements which merit special mention. The first is the environmental sustainability of the new building. The Everyman has always been pioneering and forward-looking and one of the major issues of our age and our legacy to future generations - is climate change and our response to it. The new Everyman has environmental sustainability designed into every element. The auditorium, foyer and creative spaces will all be naturally ventilated. We will be using new, sustainable technology such as air source heat pumps to support this strategy. Rainwater will be harvested and used to flush the toilets. Bike racks and a sustainable transport policy will support environmentally friendly travel habits on the part of workers, participants and audiences. Though it’s a significant stretch for a theatre, we feel it’s only right that the Everyman should pitch for and achieve a BREEAM rating of ‘Excellent’ for environmental sustainability. The other very special element is the building’s facade. This was the last component to be fully designed, as we wanted to concentrate on what the new Everyman should do, should offer, and should feel like before finally establishing how it would outwardly express itself. Steve had always wanted to represent the name, and the ethos, in the building’s external identity. What he and his team have come up with is a beautiful and interactive expression of the inclusivity that is at the heart of the Everyman. Their vision is for 105 human-sized shutters, each etched with the image of a contemporary citizen of Liverpool. Tall, short, fat, thin, young, old, black, white, able-bodied, disabled, male, female, each expressing a singular character and adding up to a representation of our theatre - and our city - through its people. Not only will this be a beautiful piece of architectural public art, it will be created by reaching out into the city to find the photographic subjects, engaging people in new ways with the Everyman and creating something that will become part of the city’s psyche long into the future. It’s been hard to condense so much energy, thought and passion into a small space. We are now powering through detailed design and work will begin on site next autumn. Do come to www.everymanplayhouse.com if you’d like to follow our progress towards that wonderful day in 2013 when we open the doors to the new Everyman: a theatre for everyone, on a street called Hope.


discussing the work of the project, whilst the stage on our stand was happy to play host to the Association of Lighting Designers’ Michael Northen Bursary Award presentation. It would not have been possible to create the Ecovenue presence without the hard work and dedication of our staff and volunteers, and I would particularly like to thank Christopher Stone, a stage management student at Central School, and Natalie Meadham, a recent graduate from the Brighton Institute of Modern Music for their assistance. Christopher’s CAD drawings and renderings proved invaluable as we brought the elements of the exhibition together. Thank you to all who visited us during the show – we will be at PLASA 2011 next year, and look forward to welcoming you to bring you up to date on how the project has developed. So far, we are now well into the first winter heating period of the Ecovenue project, which means that we can begin Ecovenue’s contribution to PLASA 2010 in September proved to fully appreciate the impact on the environment that our performing arts venues to be a major success all round, as Tim Atkinson reports. have, and also where some of the bigger savings can be made. That said, we are still thermostatic radiator valves to radiators in all bringing more venues into the project, and Staged as one of a number of Dissemination backstage areas. Events for the project, we were kindly you can read details of the third cohort over As part of the exhibition itself we profiled the following pages. donated a large space in Earl’s Court 2 by a range of suggestions for improving the PLASA who host this annual trade show We are beginning to see the first sustainability of performing arts venues, from inklings of results as we start to deliver the for event, installation and entertainment a living wall to energy efficient mirror lights technology. Ecovenue was able to construct DECs and undertake energy assessments and invited visitors to participate in the first its own exhibition in a ‘mini-venue’, complete for the project. Firstly, it would appear Theatres Trust People’s Choice Award. with foyer, box office, auditorium, stage that Display Energy Certificates seem With ten products (see panel) and backstage areas where we were able to overestimate the efficiencies of incorporated into our stand, each of which to showcase the first 24 venues to join performance of theatre buildings with a demonstrated how theatre-related technology very small footprint with many of the venues the project representing the diversity to be is making inroads into sustainability (either found in London’s performing arts world, achieving As and Bs in their DECs. The through design or operation), visitors were from pub theatres to purpose built spaces benchmark that they are assessed against able to make comparisons and cast their vote. is established for theatres over 1000m2 and from a Grade II listed West End venue It proved to be a very close competition but to a converted factory. We were also able and many of the venues in the project are the Award went to Matt Lloyd and Richard to present the Ecovenue ‘journey’ that each under 1000m2. Secondly, and although this Cuthbert of Global Design Solutions for their comes to some degree as no surprise, it is venue undertakes and lessons learnt to the industry at large with hundreds of visitors able Blues System Dimmable LED backstage obvious that the landlord/tenant relationship working light system. to join us over the four days from can be, or can often be seen to be, a On PLASA 2010’s ‘Sustainability 12 September 2010. significant barrier to making sustainability Tuesday’ we presented two seminars We were able to profile examples such improvements to buildings. as use of daylight sensing/time controls effectively on exterior displays which can Nominations for the Theatres Trust People’s Choice Award 2010 mean larger venues save not only on power Coemar Reflection Full Spectrum consumption, but also on maintenance ETC Selador Lustr LED wash light hours and lamp replacement costs; Building Global Design Solutions Blues System Dimmable (winner) Management Systems which are ideal for I-PIX BB3 Wash Luminaire more complex buildings with a number of zones, and especially those with high and JB Lighting A7 Zoom LED Wash varied occupancy patterns; how adding Philips Vari’ Lite VL1100CD even a small amount of natural ventilation Prism Projection, Inc RevEAL CW-TS Wash Luminaire can help reduce power costs associated Robert Juliat Aledin LED Profile with air conditioning use; the use of SeaChanger Sea Changer Nemo Profile and Wash Fixture occupancy detectors to switch off dressing White Light/Arcola/BOC HyLight Hydrogen Fuel Cell room lighting when not in use; and fitting

Ecovenue at PLASA 2010

Theatres Magazine WINTER 2010 17


Photo: Failing Angel

Photo: Ewan_M

Arcola The Arcola Theatre has become wellestablished in its current premises at Arcola Street in Hackney, but as of January 2011 will be moving to a new home in Ashwin Street, opposite Dalston Junction station. The new building is a 19th century factory – formerly the home of paint and fine art supplier, Reeves. The two performance spaces from its Arcola Street base will be recreated at the new venue, as well as its supporting areas; café/bar, workshop/rehearsal space and green technology incubator. There will also be an additional workshop/ rehearsal space to support the youth and community programme. The capacity of Studio One will increase from 150 to 200, and will maintain the theatre’s current programme of classics, new writing, new adaptations and world theatre. Studio Two will be a smaller, 100-seat space for up-and-coming theatre companies, new writing and young directors, alongside established work. Ecovenue will be following Arcola from Arcola Street to Ashwin Street to look at the impact of moving between venues, with the opportunity to gain comparator information between the operation in both buildings.

artsdepot Situated at Tally Ho Corner in Finchley on the site of the former Gaumont cinema, artsdepot was conceived in 1996 by the local community in response to requests for new services from Barnet Borough Council. The request was for a larger version of High Barnet’s Bull Arts Centre. Following the appointment of ACT Theatre Consultants to create a residential and commercial development containing a multi-purpose art centre with visual arts and performance spaces, the project was officially launched 2001 and opened in October 2004. Since then, through its two spaces, the 395–seat Pentland Theatre, and the 148-seat Studio Theatre, and the other facilities available, artsdepot has presented a wide range of dance, art, drama, comedy and music, complemented by courses in many of these disciplines. Designed by architects Ruddle Wilkinson, the striking building contains not only artsdepot, but several large retail outlets, North Finchley Bus Station, and ten stories of residential accommodation above. The large structural nature of artsdepot’s building will give Ecovenue a chance to look at how a more modern performing arts building performs, but equally demonstrate that sustainability practices can be adopted regardless of building type.

Camden People’s Theatre Located in central London, Camden People’s Theatre is a unique space for the production and presentation of innovative contemporary theatre and live art by both emerging and established artists, and is dedicated to artists and audiences taking risks, making exciting choices and pursuing excellence. Its facilities include a studio theatre ideally suited to work on the small-scale, a gallery space in the foyer and inexpensive rehearsal rooms. It runs a year-round programme, and each spring presents the Sprint Festival, promoting up to 18 companies making adventurous theatre. Founded in 1994 by a group of theatre practitioners interested in developing a collaborative working method and a visual, gestural style of performance, CPT continues to forge short- and long-term relationships with a diverse range of companies and artists. Few venues can match its depth of involvement in our specialist field of visual, physical and collaboratively-made theatre. Actually situated across two buildings – a former Victorian pub and a more modern residential/college building, there will be significant challenges in managing energy across the two buildings.

Full-time staff

10

Full-time staff

30

Full-time staff

1.5

Seating capacity

200/100

Seating capacity

395/148

Seating capacity

60

Date of construction

19th century

Date of construction

2004

Date of construction

c.1900

Listed

Not Listed

Listed

Not Listed

Listed

Not Listed

Ownership status

Tenant

Ownership status

Tenant

Ownership status

Tenant

Primary fuel

Gas

Primary fuel

Gas

Primary fuel

Gas

Means of ventilation

Mixed-mode

Means of ventilation

Air conditioned

Means of ventilation

Mixed-mode

18 WINTER 2010 Theatres Magazine


Cock Tavern Theatre The Cock Tavern Theatre is house above the pub of the same name on Kilburn High Road, in north London. Established in 2009, the Cock brings a year-round programme of new works and critical revivals. Under the artistic direction of Adam SpreadburyMaher, resident companies Good Night Out Presents and OperaUpClose maintain a strict commitment to world premieres and revivals from world-class playwrights in an intimate and cosy atmosphere. The venue is taking a pro-active approach to environmental sustainability and has a robust environmental policy. It uses only recycled paper to make tickets and programmes; uses energy efficient lightbulbs; and has banned plastic and polystyrene cups. The lighting rig makes use of LED PAR cans mixed in with regular stage lights, which use just 3% of the electricity and 3% of the heat of conventional lanterns. It has also banned the purchase of new gels and only allows its designers to use recycled gels. The venue is actively seeking to further reduce its carbon footprint and be as sustainable as possible and believes its engagement with Ecovenue will help assist it further.

Etcetera Theatre Situated above The Oxford Arms on Camden High Street, the Etcetera Theatre is one of London’s best known pub theatres. Since 1986 the Etcetera has played host to the very best of the London Fringe. New writing, revivals, comedy, magic, musicals, readings and previews. In 1996 the Etcetera received the Guinness Ingenuity Award for Pub Theatre and also received a nomination for the Peter Brook Empty Space Award. From 2004 to 2009 the Etcetera was under the management of Zena Barrie and Michelle Flower, and is currently managed by Michelle Flower and Gemma Leader, for It’s Alright For Some Ltd. Etcetera Theatre is notably home to the ‘Camden Fringe’, which takes place every August, featuring all genres of performance, and which sold over 10,000 tickets in 2009. A classic example of a public house of its time, we hope to be able to draw information from our other pub venues that will allow Ecovenue to assist Etcetera in becoming more sustainable, and also communicate this message to its many patrons.

Hoxton Hall An early music-hall, and the only such building to survive in Greater London, Hoxton Hall is a youth-oriented performance space, which, beyond the two-tiered Hall itself, includes adjoining music rooms, recording space rehearsal rooms, dance studio, meeting rooms, art workshops and café. Primarily a youth arts centre, Hoxton Hall runs a number of projects aimed at 17-25 year olds from the Hoxton and Shoreditch community. Get Creative, Hipnotic, Hoxton Street Casting and It Happened Here feature among the most prominent. Classes are also run for adults. Priding itself on developing grassroots talent, Hoxton Hall is also used by external companies as a performance venue; the BBC and the English National Opera are among its visitors. Hoxton Hall has been on the Trust’s Theatre Buildings At Risk register since 2007. Ecovenue hopes to be able to contribute to the sustainability of the venue, and we hope to be able to give the management an insight into areas that may help future-proof the building, and help it stand for at least another 147 years.

Full-time staff

1

Full-time staff

3

Full-time staff

2

Seating capacity

55

Seating capacity

42

Seating capacity

120

Date of construction

1900/2009

Date of construction

Not Known/1986

Date of construction

1863

Listed

Not Listed

Listed

Not Listed

Listed

Grade II*

Ownership status

Tenant

Ownership status

Tenant

Ownership status

Owner

Primary fuel

Electricity

Primary fuel

Electricity

Primary fuel

Gas

Means of ventilation

Natural

Means of ventilation

Natural

Means of ventilation

Natural

Theatres Magazine WINTER 2010 19


King’s Head Theatre There has been a public house on the site of the King’s Head since 1543, and in the Victorian building that now stands there, Dan Crawford founded the theatre in 1970. The theatre sits in a room to the rear previously used as both a boxing ring and a pool hall. This in turn was reconstructed over 20072008, and now seats 120 for performances of revues, contemporary forgotten classics, new work, musicals and stand-up comedy. Following Dan Crawford’s untimely death in 2005, his wife, and long-serving artistic director, Stephanie Sinclaire took over the running of the venue, which has been supported over the years by a wide variety of distinguished names, such as Maureen Lipman, Sir John Mortimer, Sharon D Clarke, and Janie Dee. Since 2007, the New York producer, Steven M. Levy has been serving as Executive Director. In spring 2010 it was announced that the theatre would become ‘London’s Little Opera House’, focusing on producing opera on the small scale. Ecovenue will be looking to assist the King’s Head on its journey, and discover the impact of opera on this scale.

Leicester Square Theatre The Leicester Square Theatre is a 420seat theatre situated beneath Notre Dame French Catholic Church just off Leicester Square. The building originated as the Notre Dame Hall in 1953, replacing an earlier building that had been destroyed by World War II bombing. It was used as a French cultural centre until the 1970s, when the hall became a venue for punk music, and played host to concerts by The Clash, Sex Pistols and Wire. It continued in use for live music and as a dance hall, until it was converted to a theatre in 2001. Originally named, The Venue, it opened with the premiere of the Boy George musical, Taboo. It has operated as the Leicester Square Theatre since August 2008. As well as a main auditorium with its unique, newly-installed Oscar-style seating, it has an intimate basement theatre with its own bar and cabaret-style seating. The first basement venue to join the project will give us an insight into how a building can perform when underground, and the challenges that this imposes on a venue.

Pleasance For the last 26 years on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and 16 years on the London Fringe, Pleasance has provided a platform for over 4,500 productions involving over 40,000 people on and offstage at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the London Fringe, Nationwide and abroad, all achieved without any public subsidy. Its London venue in Islington has been one of the most exciting Fringe theatres in London since it opened its doors in 1995. It comprises a 289seat main auditorium together with a 60-seat studio space and additional function rooms. There are plans to extend Pleasance London in order to create a better resourced development platform for emerging talent. New facilities will include, rehearsal rooms, recording studios, a Kids’ Art café, exhibition space, and production offices Ecovenue will allow the Pleasance to get a better handle on the demands of this complex space, as well as adjoining administrative space.

Full-time staff

1

Full-time staff

28

Full-time staff

10

Seating capacity

120

Seating capacity

420/60

Seating capacity

289/60

Date of construction

1543/1970

Date of construction

1953/2002

Date of construction

Not known/1995

Listed

Not Listed

Listed

Grade II

Listed

Not Listed

Ownership status

Tenant

Ownership status

Owner

Ownership status

n/a

Primary fuel

Electricity

Primary fuel

Gas

Primary fuel

Gas

Means of ventilation

None

Means of ventilation

Mixed-mode

Means of ventilation

Mixed-mode

20 WINTER 2010 Theatres Magazine


Photo: Fin Fahey

Putney Arts Theatre Putney Arts Centre (PAC) is the home of the Putney Theatre Company and Group 64 Youth Theatre. Housed in the former Union Church in Putney, which was converted for theatre use in 1968, the venue comprises a 155-seat main auditorium together with a 46-seat studio and ancillary facilities. Although the name PAC dates from 1999, the history of the resident theatre group, Group 64 goes back to 1959 when Maurice Copus, a teacher at Southfields School, who recognised that a number of his enthusiastic pupils needed a local theatre group, founded an after-school theatre club. The venue has undergone a series of refurbishments, including the reconstruction of the main auditorium. In 1998, an Arts Council Lottery award enabled the purchase of the freehold and much improved disabled access. We will look to see what lessons can be learned from this recently modernised worship space, and what our other experiences can offer this popular youth oriented venue.

The Space The Space is a performing arts and community centre based in a converted church on the Isle of Dogs, East London. Run by St Paul’s Arts Trust, it provides a broad range of events and opportunities for new performers of all kinds. St Paul’s Church, designed by T.E. Knightley, was constructed in 1859 to serve a thriving community. But as large parts of the Isle of Dogs went into decline in the late 1960 the church was deconsecrated in 1972. In 1989 a locally based group of individuals created the St Paul’s Arts Trust and took over the building and began the slow process of restoration and conversion. As well as programming a year-round mix of theatre, music, comedy and dance, the venue is home to SpaceWorks, an in-house theatre company, which provides regular weekly workshops in performance for children and adults. It also provides training in a wide range of technical theatre and arts administration skills.  With its busy schedule, it should be possible for Ecovenue to help Space put sustainability into the heart of many projects, with a great influence on the local community.

Union Chapel An imposing red-brick gothic Victorian church by architect James Cubitt, and situated near Highbury and Islington station, the Union Chapel’s name denotes its mixed congregation of Anglican and non-conformist. Aside from its church use, the building functions as an 850-seat performance venue for music and comedy. Notable musical names that have performed in recent years include Noel Gallagher, Adam Ant, Keane, Amy Winehouse and Shawn Colvin. Comedy performers have included Stephen K Amos, Rufus Hound, Howard Marks, Stephen Merchant and Stewart Lee. The Union Chapel represents the latest in a line of worship spaces to join the Ecovenue project, although it is the first that it is still in use as such. We look forward to taking on the challenges presented by such a building, as well as those presented by the high-profile nature of the performances – for example the inevitably larger amounts and specifications of kit that undoubtedly accompanies them, and the larger numbers of audience that come to see them.

Full-time staff

2

Full-time staff

3

Full-time staff

3

Seating capacity

155/50

Seating capacity

100

Seating capacity

850

Date of construction

1860/1968

Date of construction

1997

Date of construction

1877/1991

Listed

Not Listed

Listed

Grade II

Listed

Grade II*

Ownership status

Owner

Ownership status

Owner

Ownership status

Owner

Primary fuel

Gas

Primary fuel

Gas

Primary fuel

Gas

Means of ventilation

Natural

Means of ventilation

Mixed-mode

Means of ventilation

Natural

Theatres Magazine WINTER 2010 21


From left to right: Liverpool’s Neptune (now Epstein) Theatre Photo: Ian Grundy Futurist, Scarborough Photo: Ian Grundy

Theatres Round-up News on theatres and theatre projects from around the country

Lloyd Webber sells four of his theatres A consortium led by TV executive, Michael Grade and theatrical agent Michael Linnit completed the purchase four West End theatres from Really Useful Group in October 2010. The £50 million deal sees GradeLinnet acquire the Palace, Her Majesty’s, the Cambridge and the New London theatres. Grade has family connections to the theatre world. His father was the theatrical agent Leslie Grade, and his uncle, Bernard Delfont, was the co-founder of Delfont Mackintosh Theatres. Having sold its interest in the Garrick and Lyric theatres to Nimax Theatres in 2006, Really Useful Group will retain the London Palladium and the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and continue to have a 50% stake in the Adelphi. It is reported that Lloyd Webber reduced the selling price by £5 million on the understanding that the same amount would be re-invested in the fabric of the theatres, in particular in the refurbishment of the Palace Theatre. Demolition plans approved for Workington Opera House At a meeting of the Development panel in mid-October 2010, Allerdale Borough Council approved outline planning permission for the redevelopment of the Workington Opera House site. Under current proposals, the theatre is to be knocked down and replaced by apartments and shops. Nevertheless, a determined group of campaigners, headed by Keith Beattie, is continuing to fight

22 WINTER 2010 Theatres Magazine

to save the theatre and is putting together a ‘sound commercial proposition’ to restore the theatre. For more details of the campaign visit workingtonoperahouse.co.uk. Penelope Keith supports the Derby Hippodrome Penelope Keith CBE DL, a Trustee of The Theatres Trust made a special appearance outside Derby Hippodrome on 12 October 2010 in a show of support for the theatre’s future. Along with representatives from the Derby Hippodrome Restoration Trust and the Trust, Penelope supported the recent unanimous rejection by the Planning Control Committee of Derby City Council of proposals to develop the Hippodrome site as a multi-storey car park. In a statement made outside the theatre she said, “As a trustee of The Theatres Trust I’m delighted to see action being taken to protect Derby Hippodrome by Derby City Council. We’ve been working very hard with the Council and Derby Hippodrome Restoration Trust to secure the future of this wonderful building. It’s good to see that, at last, some works are going on to stabilise and protect this theatre. It’s one of a number of listed buildings in this area which if restored could make such a difference to people’s lives, and it could have such a bright future as an arts and cultural community resource in an area of Derby that has real potential. We hope that the Hippodrome Restoration Trust’s plans to acquire the building and restore it to a working theatre receive the full support of the council and others who are able to help”.

Trust supports listing of Bishop Auckland Hippodrome The Theatres Trust submitted an application to English Heritage in October 2010 to nominate the Hippodrome Variety Theatre in Bishop Auckland as a heritage asset for statutory listing. The Trust has been reviewing theatres of the period and considers that the Hippodrome in Bishop Auckland meets the special criteria for designation set out in the English Heritage Culture and Entertainment Buildings Selection Guide produced by the Heritage Protection Department. Designed by J.J. Taylor, and built under the supervision of George F. Ward (of Owen & Ward), the Hippodrome opened in 1909 as a cine-variety theatre. By 1914 its programme was almost entirely film and it was renamed the Hippodrome Picture House. It closed as a cinema in 1960 and was converted for bingo use, which continues today. Royal Court Liverpool secures HLF funding Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre Trust has secured the first stage in a Heritage Lottery Fund grant towards its redevelopment. The award of around £116,200 will enable the Grade II listed venue to develop its scheme up to RIBA Stage D and gain planning approval. The Court’s chief executive, Gillian Miller and her management team hope it will then pave the way to success with the balance of their £1 million Lottery funding bid to help with the restoration of the auditorium in the theatre.

Bath’s Theatre Royal refurbishment Bath’s Grade II* listed Theatre Royal reopened in early September 2010 after a two month closure period and a £3.65 million programme of refurbishment. Works comprised a complete re-modelling of the entrance and foyer; the creation of new bar in the vaults; and redecoration throughout the theatre, including the cleaning of each of the 13,550 crystals on the famous chandelier above the auditorium. The opening production in the refurbished theatre was Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals, appropriately set in Bath in 1775, just a few years after the original Theatre Royal opened in Orchard Street. The show starred Theatres Trust Trustee, Penelope Keith, and Peter Bowles. They also cut the ribbon to formally announce the reopening of the theatre. New Trust takes control at Eastbourne Royal Hippodrome At a meeting on 20 October 2010, Eastbourne Borough Council voted to transfer control of the Royal Hippodrome Theatre to a charitable trust. The proposal is that the handover of control to the Royal Hippodrome Theatre Trust will take place in various stages with decreasing financial support from the council, giving the Trust full and independent governance of the theatre by April 2014. The decision has been welcomed by campaigners who hope that charitable status will enable them to attract funding to improve the theatre. In 2006, the


Royal Project, now a communitybased charitable trust, was set up in the hope of renovating and remodelling the Grade II listed building into a fully-equipped community theatre. Curtain comes down at Conwy Civic The announcement that Conwy Civic Hall is to close at the end of December 2010 has been met with dismay by the wide range of community groups that currently use the North Wales theatre. In a letter to theatre groups and organisations, Conwy County Borough Council confirmed the closure would save “at least £20,000 every year”, but that the lounge area of the building would still be available during library opening hours. Groups affected by the closure include: the Civic Hall Amateur Players; Teenz & Kidz; Conwy Folk Club; and the North Wales One Act Play Festival. Arcola Theatre on the move London’s Arcola Theatre is to move into new premises at 24 Ashwin Street, opposite Dalston Junction Station in north-east London. Arcola has occupied a former textile factory since it was founded in 2000 and its lease is coming to an end after the owner of the building decided to convert the site into a block of luxury flats. The venue has launched a £150,000 fundraising appeal to help redevelop its new base at the former Colourworks factory. Arcola continues in its mission to become the world’s first carbon neutral theatre and Arcola Energy is delivering a

programme of activity spanning everything from recycling bottles to, building facilities from old sets, to international green theatre partnerships, to the hydrogen fuel cell powering the LED lighting in the cafe/bar and its Studio One lighting rigs. For further details visit arcolatheatre.com. Liverpool’s Neptune to be renamed the Epstein Theatre The Neptune Theatre is to be renamed in honour of Brian Epstein, the former Beatles manager, who once worked in the building at the record and musical instrument retailer Crane’s, in his pre-Beatles days. The Grade II listed theatre, which has been closed for the past five years because of a longrunning lease dispute between Liverpool City Council and the leaseholder, Hanover Estates, is currently undergoing a £750,000 programme of refurbishment works and is expected to reopen in 2011. The venue opened in 1913 as Crane’s Music Hall, and was renamed the Neptune Theatre in 1967 to reflect the city’s maritime heritage. Urgent repairs at the Theatre Royal Dumfries A survey of Scotland’s oldest working theatre has found urgent repairs and maintenance must be carried out to safeguard its future. Councillors are being asked to back a set of improvements at the Theatre Royal in Dumfries costing £225,000. Earlier this month the Nithsdale area committee approved £30,000 to prevent

deterioration of the site. Now it is being asked to release extra funds to keep it wind and watertight and extend its life by about 10 years. Scarborough Futurist’s future secured to 2012 The future of Scarborough’s Futurist Theatre has been secured for the next two years following a councillors’ recommendation to provide an additional subsidy of £60,000 to invest in urgent repairs to the theatre. The agreement will allow lessee, Barry Stead, to run the theatre through until 2012. In the meantime, advocates of a People’s Trust will be given 12 months to come up with a business plan detailing how they could restore and run the theatre. If such plans are not forthcoming or prove “unrealistic”, the Task Group said the council would reserve the right to sell off the site for redevelopment in 2012, when markets are expected to have improved. Hardwicke Theatre at Thorns Community College Edward Hardwicke, best known for his portrayal of Dr Watson in ITV’s Sherlock Holmes, was the guest of honour at Thorns Community College in Dudley on 4 November 2010 when their 150-seat theatre was renamed the Hardwicke Theatre, in memory of his famous acting father, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, who was born locally. The re-launch also fits in with the college’s plan to transform the theatre into a community-based performance venue, suitable for

small scale touring shows as well as providing valuable rehearsal space at evenings and weekends. SAVE Britain’s Theatres!!! A new Trust is being established with the aim of creating a national lobbying network to protect theatres in the UK. The founding trustees of SAVE Britain’s Theatres!!! are all former members of the 1982 ‘Curtains!!! Or A New Life For Old Theatres’ committee, which originally researched and published its ground-breaking gazetteer of theatres built in Great Britain before 1914. They include, John Earl, former Director of The Theatres Trust; Iain Mackintosh, former Director of Theatre Projects Consultants; theatre historian and co-editor of The Theatres Trust Guide to British Theatres, Michael Sell; and David Wilmore of Theatresearch Historic Theatre Consultants. With the recent loss of the Nelson Palace and the impending demolition of the Borough Theatre in Wallsend, and the refusal by English Heritage to list either building, the group believes it can work with local groups to mount campaigns to save threatened theatres from demolition or redevelopment. To register your interest, become involved, or receive future e-mail newsletters then email savebritainstheatres@ theatresearch.co.uk or call David Wilmore on 01423 780497.

For regularly updated information on theatres visit the news section of our website.

Theatres Magazine WINTER 2010 23


From left to right: Original drum and shaft mechanisms at the Comedy Theatre National Monuments Record © English Heritage Photo: Derek Kendall Perth Theatre Image: Richard Murphy Architects

Current Casework Update on current theatre planning cases

National Theatre, London London Borough of Lambeth Listed Grade II* Refs: 10/02040/FUL & 10/02260/LB Decision: Approved The Trust supported associated planning and listed building consent applications for a major redevelopment programme at the National Theatre on London’s South Bank. The scheme, drawn up by Haworth Tompkins Architects, will provide a new entrance lobby and bookshop; reconfigured foyers; a new education centre and a refurbished Cottesloe auditorium; new catering and cafe areas; and a new four-storey rear extension providing workshop space. The Trust welcomed the scheme which was informed by the detailed Conservation Management Plan and, in the Trust’s opinion, was sensitive to Denys Lasdun’s original vision for the theatre. Theatr Gwynedd/Pontio Theatre, Bangor Gwynedd Council Unlisted (in conservation area) Ref: C10A/0268/11/LL Decision: Approved The Trust supported a planning application for the construction of a new facility to replace Theatr Gwynedd in Bangor. The 450-seat Pontio Theatre will also provide a 200-seat lecture theatre/cinema, technical workshop, student union, offices and café. Theatres Trust officers met with the architects Grimshaws and other members of the design team at the preapplication stage and were pleased

24 WINTER 2010 Theatres Magazine

that many of its concerns regarding the height of the fly tower and stage access were incorporated into the planning application. The main theatre auditorium has been designed to be a flexible and adaptable space, allowing it be used for a variety of performing arts, conferencing and events, but mainly for touring and in-house productions. The Trust also supported the contemporary glazed design approach and noted that the building has been designed to be in keeping with the scale of the area and built of traditional robust materials. Witham Hall, Barnard Castle Durham County Council Listed Grade II Refs: 06/2010/0162/DM and 06/2010/0163/DM/LB Decision: Pending Although not objecting in principle to associated planning and listed building consent applications to redevelop Witham Hall at Barnard Castle in Durham, the Trust has expressed its concern about the proposed demolition of the former Institute’s ‘music hall’, which is situated to the rear of the complex. In responding to the applications, which provide a new 160-seat theatre, separate cinema space and retail units, the Trust drew attention to an earlier scheme for the site which retained the hall. The Trust requested that the local authority be thoroughly satisfied the earlier scheme is unviable before considering the new application. The Institute’s hall was constructed in 1860 as a multipurpose concert and lecture hall rather than a traditional music hall.

Nevertheless, it is architecturally significant and has historic value as an early and well-preserved example of a once fairly common building type. Despite its reservations, the Trust is aware that the Witham complex fulfils a valuable role in the local community and understands that the existing facilities restrict the options for theatre use, due to lack of backstage accommodation and limited technical facilities. If the planning authority is minded to grant consent, the Trust has asked to be consulted further about suitable recording and salvaging, as well as other conditions that may be attached to such consent. Festival Theatre, Edinburgh Edinburgh City Council Listed Category B Ref: 10/01478/FUL Decision: Approved The Trust supported a planning application to provide a new extension to the Festival Theatre providing a rehearsal room/160-seat performance space, a commercial office development and student accommodation on adjoining land. It will provide essential new facilities that will support the continued success of the theatre. The creation of a new rehearsal space will enable the theatre to provide improved facilities for visiting performers, as well as attracting world class companies. In addition, the new building will be capable of operating independently. As a result, when not in use by the theatre, it could potentially be used by the nearby University, the annual Fringe Festival and the wider community for

rehearsals, education workshops and performances. In the Trust’s opinion, the design of the new building is sympathetic in terms of height, bulk and materials and will not adversely harm the special architectural or historic interest of the Category B listed Festival Theatre. Comedy Theatre, London City of Westminster Listed Grade II Ref: 10/04413/LBC Decision: Approved The Trust supported a listed building consent application, in principle, for works to the stage grid at the Comedy Theatre. The works will improve the technical back stage facilities and provide better safety as well as a more practical functioning theatre. The scheme proposes to retain six of the eight drums and shafts considered to be of historic value and architectural significance, with the removal of the back-of-house high level cross-over. The Trust also suggested that there be a condition for a full recording report of the current grid and drum arrangement (to English Heritage Level Three) along with offering the remaining two drums and shafts to be removed to a suitable statutory body. Park Theatre, London London Borough of Islington Ref: P101570 Decision: Approved The Trust supported a planning application for the creation of a new theatre facility in Finsbury Park, north London. The scheme will provide a 190-seat theatre together with


80-seat studio space and ancillary facilities in a former office block. The Trust commended the privately owned and funded and project which was backed by a robust business plan. The theatre, close to Finsbury Park tube station will deliver a programme that will include a broad artistic policy, growing and depending on the needs of the local community. It is proposed that it will be available for hire for theatre companies, youth groups, charities, community associations and local businesses. The Trust was also able to offer advice and supported the renewable technology proposals as well as the commitment to reducing carbon emissions. London Palladium City of Westminster Listed Grade II* Ref: 10/08367/LBC Decision: Pending The Trust supported a listed building consent application for refurbishment and redecoration works at the London Palladium. The works are being proposed in order to carry out much needed repair to areas of the façade which have deteriorated overtime. The proposals also include the complete redecoration of the façade in order to improve the appearance of the building, enhancing its historic features and restoring areas of original detail. The extensive show signage is also being reduced, in order to give greater priority to the building. The underlying intention of the proposals is to improve the Palladium’s presence on Argyll Street. However, the Trust was disappointed to note

that the bulky uplighters and the internally illuminated projecting box-signs do not form part of the scheme. As it is the aspiration of the applicant to replace these fixtures with more sympathetic installations, the Trust recommended amended plans be submitted so that permission need not be obtained at a later date. Theatre Royal, Newcastle Upon Tyne Newcastle City Council Listed Grade I Ref: 2010/0981/01/LBC Decision: Approved with conditions The Trust supported a listed building consent application for internal alterations at the Theatre Royal, including the re-configuration of lobby kiosks; the construction of an access ramp to the stalls; the insertion of additional seating and new lighting in the auditorium; as well as general restoration works throughout the building. The proposed works and method of adaptation have been carefully considered within the Design and Access Statement and Heritage Intervention Justification submitted with the application. Royal Opera House, London City of Westminster Listed Grade I Ref: 10/07745/ADV Decision: Pending The Trust supported an advertisement consent application for a new sign to the Russell Street elevation at the Royal Opera House. The proposed sign is of a traditional appearance and has been carefully designed

and located to complement the proportions and integrity of the façade on which it is to be located. In the Trust’s opinion, the proposed graphics and colour are not obtrusive within the streetscape, and reflect the elegantly designed suite of signage and branding already existing (and approved) for the Royal Opera House. The design concept follows a consistent approach and the general strategy endorsed within the City of Westminster’s Theatreland Lighting and Signage, An informal guide, published in November 2008. Palace Theatre, Redcar Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council Unlisted Ref: R/2010/0428/F3M Decision: Approved with conditions Although not objecting in principle to a planning application which included the demolition of the former Palace Theatre in Redcar, the Trust did, nevertheless, raise serious concerns about the redevelopment which proposes the replacement of the theatre with a 4/5 storey Creative Industries Centre. The Trust’s major concern was that no replacement performance space is proposed as part of the redevelopment. The Trust commended the Council and its partners for wishing to create a ‘chain of creative industries’ (including the Creative Hub) and also for improvements to the Esplanade and seafront environs. However, in responding to the application it pointed out that it is the Theatres Trust’s policy to seek an equivalent or improved replacement, or a planning obligation that provides a financial

contribution to address the loss of the amenity and enhancement of the local theatre infrastructure, whenever there is an agreement to demolish a theatre for redevelopment of the land. Furthermore, the Trust considered that the proposed replacement building was too obtrusive within the street-scene in terms of height and massing and a more appropriate solution would have been to retain, refurbish and enhance the original 1913 frontage of the former theatre, along with a number of other buildings fronting the Esplanade (as the BDP Regeneration Masterplan suggests) together with new build, thereby renewing and regenerating more of the seafront. Perth Theatre Perth and Kinross Council Listed Category B Ref.: 10/00914/FLL Decision: Pending The Trust supported a planning application for alterations and extensions at Perth Theatre, together with the formation of a new entrance to the venue. The scheme will provide essential new and upgraded facilities, whilst conserving the existing historic auditorium. New facilities will include a 232-seat studio space, youth theatre and community and rehearsal rooms, which will enable the theatre to reach out to wider audiences and provide a broader range of performances and events. The Trust particularly welcomed plans to reinstate the original upper circle of the auditorium and the orchestra pit, as these measures would restore the original Edwardian layout envisioned by the architect William Alexander.

Theatres Magazine WINTER 2010 25


The Sage Gateshead

Reading Matter Reviews of recent publications on theatres



The Sage Gateshead Anthony Sargent and Peter Buchanan £14.99 Prestel Publishing Ltd Hardback, 96pp ISBN: 978 3791343143 This small volume provides a valuable record through photographs, drawings and text of The Sage Gateshead building, published some five years after its completion. It is produced by the architects, Foster & Partners, so there is little here by way of independent criticism, but it is nevertheless an informative and well-presented account of a remarkable building. It opens with an introduction by Anthony Sargent, the client, who is clearly thrilled with the way the building serves its purpose, continues with a series of well captioned photographs and concludes with an article by Peter Buchanan, explaining the design and its derivation, illustrated with a good selection of architectural drawings and sketches. So far, so worthy. But what makes this a book worth owning is the quality of the building itself, which in my view is one of the most interesting and important performance buildings built in the UK in the last 20 years. I used it as an exemplar of good theatre planning in my chapter in Theatre Buildings: A Design Guide, even though it isn’t a theatre - so I am a fan! So what is it that makes this building so special? It is not, in my view, its curvaceous exterior or indeed the halls themselves, which are very good, but the clarity of its organisation. The Sage is

26 WINTER 2010 Theatres Magazine

a successful example of urban regeneration through the arts in Newcastle Gateshead, being the last in a cluster of new cultural projects: the Angel of the North, the Millennium Bridge and the Baltic Arts Centre. It is designed from the inside out and is really three buildings; the large hall, small hall and rehearsal hall, placed in a row and covered by a huge undulating roof. Each hall is expressed as a free-standing volume, with the stairs to the upper levels sitting in the clefts between them and the great roof floating over all three. At ground level an enormous bow fronted foyer space, overlooking the River Tyne, links all three spaces. The building is entered through the glazed walls at either end and the foyer acts as a street, or as the architects describe it ‘an urban room’, leading from one end to the other. The result is a building with enormous clarity, which, like all good public buildings, is instantly legible and accessible to everyone. This clarity of planning is a hallmark of the Foster studio’s best work and is only achieved through absolute mastery of the brief. To have achieved such rigour in their very first performing arts project, which this was, is indeed remarkable. TIM FOSTER Backstage Brighton Digby Beaumont, Jules Craig et al £11.99 QueenSpark Books Paperback, 74pp ISBN: 978 0904733730 Billed as, “A compelling compendium of stories surrounding nearly two dozen of the resorts more notable theatrical and

performance spaces”, this book makes a somewhat random tour of performance spaces in – almost entirely – Brighton. Amongst the potted histories of the venues are often amusing anecdotes and memories from both theatre-goers and those in the business, frequently contradictory whilst retaining plausibility. I was particularly amused by the two recollections, at opposite ends of the spectrum, regarding the Imperial Theatre - the first extolling its beauty, the second declaring that it was too modern, too sparsely decorated and bemoaning the poor acoustics! The book is lavishly illustrated with photographs, programme covers and posters - the majority in colour, and it concentrates on the venues rather than the stars that trod their boards.. Particularly poignant are those images of the fabulous theatres which are no more: the two Pier Theatres, the Alhambra/Odeon/Palladium in Kings Road and the lovely Dolphin Theatre in New Road. It spans a wide spectrum of times and styles of theatre. From the Theatre Royal, first opened in 1807, through the University theatres to a section of ‘oddball’ places utilised for a single, site-specific production, such as the Co-op in London Road used in the Festival 2010. The book’s weakness lies in the many omissions of venues. None of the very early music halls are named (the Sussex Music Hall, Myrtle Tree Hall, and Canterbury Theatre for example). Notable by its absence, despite a good section on his later Hippodrome/ Grand/Eden

Theatre, is Fred Ginnett’s Royal Hippodrome / Gaiety, credited with bringing the first electricity to Brighton’s theatres on 23rd November 1878, a full three years before London’s Savoy Theatre. None of the cinemas which were constructed with full and frequently used stage facilities (the Granada Hove, Regent and Astoria) get a mention. Likewise, despite having a section on The ‘Little’ Theatres, many are missing from the book – including the Little Vic, Little Theatre (Hove), Shakespearian Theatre and the Playhouse Kemp Town. It is an entertaining read, and is well produced, but it is a snapshot, rather than a full history of theatregoing in Brighton. IAN GRUNDY Dr Langdon Down’s Normansfield Theatre John Earl £7.50 Twickenham Local History Society Paperback, 56pp ISBN: 978 0903341837 What a fascinating book on two equally fascinating and closely related subjects. I originally read John Earl’s first edition of this captivating story more than a decade ago and I was delighted to see this new extended edition, which is almost 50% longer than the first, and for theatre buffs this is where the added value will certainly lie. The book sets out the work of Dr. Langdon Down, and his remarkable wife, in meeting the needs of treatment for a group of individuals previously


described as “imbeciles”, and who were to live most of their lives in the lunatic asylum. In so doing, it brings to notice the part that performance played in that treatment, and the extraordinary facility which he had built. John Earl shows how a humane educative regime turned the treatment for “imbeciles” on its head and how individuals born with what we now know as “Down’s Syndrome” have hidden depths and abilities. Down’s own vision allowed escape from a lunatic asylum to his own training institute which he founded at Normansfield in 1868. Here he not only provided good physical conditions and practical training but he emphasised the importance of play, music and performance. As a result he opened the Entertainment Hall in 1879, now commonly referred to as Normansfield Theatre. This building is an astonishing and unique survivor of its kind. Probably always much better equipped to a professional standard than many theatres, this book provides great detail on the theatre and its equipment. The spectacular decorated proscenium, the original sets of grooved scenery, as well as the original cloths identify the interest for any theatre historian. Much of this was well described and illustrated in the first edition and the joy of this new publication is that the story now includes the conservation of this time capsule which is largely illustrated in colour. The more recent history of Normansfield is dealt with in detail which identifies the problems of development and conservation

of buildings of the highest quality and is pertinent to all those who seek to support such activity.The prime necessity for a conservation plan and a means of preventing further deterioration of artefacts is highlighted as essential to final success. The work of Peter Longman during this period has provided essential material for two new chapters in this book which identify the ways and means which were followed in the work. With 80 flats, 18 borders, 5 cloths and numerous painted panels dating from 1879 the theatre is truly a repository of the finest examples of the age. This impeccably documented second edition is essential reading for all who cherish the legacy of the past and shows how a professional approach to conservation, bringing together all the interested parties, can succeed. MICHAEL SELL Dr Langdon Down’s Normansfield Theatre is available Price £7.50 (+ £1.80 p+p) from: Borough of Twickenham Local History Society, 75 Radnor Road, Twickenham TW1 4NB. Encore! The Renaissance of Wisconsin Opera Houses Brian Leahy Doyle $29.95 Wisconsin Historical Society Press Hardback, 272pp ISBN: 978 0870204302 It was whilst planning a visit to the American mid-West and a trip up the Great River Road following the Mississippi north through Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin,

that I discovered that one of the towns I was visiting had an opera house. A little research uncovered this splendid new book which I commend to all enthusiasts of theatre history over the pond. My planned river trip also became a pilgrimage to these fascinating historic buildings and I managed to visit eight of the ten featured in the book, and also discovered two others not included. The book does not claim to be exhaustive, but those Brian Leahy Doyle chooses to celebrate are exceptionally remarkable, and most have enjoyed impressive renovation and revitalisation. It is encouraging that in a nation which has destroyed so much of its heritage, these surviving architectural jewels are at last being cherished by their communities. The book is extremely readable. Informed and scholarly without being over laden with facts and figures, it is written with the enthusiasm of one who has a feeling for the theatrical hurlyburly that these buildings once knew. Doyle not only gives us a thorough description and account of each theatre, but investigates the various diverse communities for whom these buildings were created. Equally impressive are Mark Fay’s photographs (www. faystromphoto.com). Capturing the interior of a theatre is a challenge that not all photographers (and that certainly includes myself) manage to rise to. Fay’s images are bright and impressive, beautifully lit, and atmospheric. The two most important members of Doyle’s august cast list are the Mabel Tainter Memorial

Theater in Menominee and the Al Ringling Theater in Baraboo. Both were built through the extraordinary generosity of local philanthropists – one a free-thinking lumber baron, the other one of the world’s great showmen: the eldest brother of the famous Ringling circus family who had their winter quarters in rural Wisconsin. The former is thoroughly American from the intricate and beautiful stencilling that adorns every ceiling to the velvety cosiness of its oriental, but parlour-like auditorium. Glowing and restful in tones of powder blue, mustard and pink, it is intimate and manorial, rather than palatial. Not so Al Ringling’s magnificent gift to his humble local market town. The 1915 exterior is comparatively restrained in what I would call white faience, though the Americans call it terracotta, and does not prepare you at all for the staggering opulence of its classical French interior. Deep red velvet, old gold, and classical friezes, in a generously proportioned arena that is both intimate and spacious, this is an interior of international importance. If it were found in Europe it would immediately be on the Grade I list, and without question have an annual high-profile opera festival to sustain it. Here in sleepy Baraboo it is maintained by a dedicated team of enthusiasts, a slow but solid campaign to fund its complete renovation, and a sporadic but interesting programme of films and occasional theatrical performances. If you are ever within a 100 miles of Baraboo – go! JEFF CLARKE

Theatres Magazine WINTER 2010 27


Photo diary

Date for your diary 18 January 2011 Viewing the Victorian Stage on 20th Century Film Arts Workers’ Guild, London WC1 7.30pm Presented by Bryony Dixon, Helen DayMayer and Professor David Mayer, the purpose of this lecture-demonstration is to explicate the Victorian and Edwardian Stage on Film Project and to exhibit films which captured performances, theatrical repertoire, and technologies of the Victorian stage. There will be discussion of the resources available to researchers, of reading Victorian performance in the gestural codes of early film, and of theatrical materials and theatrical scenery adapted for the screen. For further information visit str.org.uk/events

18 March – 15 April 2011

Royal Shakespeare Theatre The RSC has re-opened its Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres in Stratford-uponAvon following the £112.8 million Transformation Project. At the heart of the venue is the new 1,040+ seat thrust stage auditorium. The project has also seen the creation of new public spaces, including the Rooftop Restaurant, a Colonnade linking the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres, and a 36 metre high Tower which provides outstanding views across Stratford-upon-Avon and the surrounding area.

Transformation & Revelation: UK Design for Performance 2007-2011 Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff Organised by the Society for British Theatre Designers, this exhibition showcases the vast range of design for performance by practitioners in the UK and by British designers working abroad. For further information visit theatredesign.org.uk/exhibitions.

Photos: RSC/Peter Cook

General & contact information Trustees Rob Dickins CBE (Chairman), Dr Phil Clark, Tim Foster, Penelope Keith CBE, DL, Dr Pauleen Lane CBE, Anne McReynolds, Matthew Rooke, Chris Shepley CBE, Ben Twist Consultants John Earl, Jonathan Lane Staff Mhora Samuel Director Mark Price Planning and Heritage Adviser Rose Freeman Planning Policy Officer Tim Atkinson Theatre Building Services Adviser Paul Connolly Operations and Development Administrator Clive Dixon Finance and Monitoring Officer Suzanne McDougall Assistant to the Director Kate Carmichael Resources Officer Fran Birch Records Officer Damian Le Sueur Design and Web Creative

The Theatres Trust is the National Advisory Public Body for Theatres. The Trust provides leadership in the planning and protection of theatres, safeguarding existing theatres and improving the planning environment for theatres across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The Theatres Trust 22 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0QL Tel: (020) 7836 8591 Fax: (020) 7836 3302 info@theatrestrust.org.uk www.theatrestrust.org.uk

www.abtt.org.uk/publications/books 28 WINTER 2010 Theatres Magazine


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