Hoardings up as MACE take over the site
- 16 July 2007
Since I last wrote we’ve done lots: our construction manager, MACE, have taken possession of most of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre site, although the adjoining Swan Theatre is still in full performance mode until mid August. We’ve erected hoardings around our site and painted them in our house colour – bright red – and then our Graphics Department have – after much consultation – produced superbly shiny panels of information to be fixed to them. The messages are clear and simple 'THE RSC IS OPEN', not only in the Swan Theatre for the next month, but in our 1000 seat temporary space – The Courtyard Theatre – a few hundred yards down the road. The panels are built to last – they’ve already survived an unexpected washing by the River Avon.
The Courtyard Theatre is our Stratford-upon-Avon home for the next three years whilst we carry out the transformation of the RST. It’s also a wonderful prototype for the new RST auditorium and its simplicity and adaptability make it a brilliant tool for the project, as my colleague Simon explained in March this year. The seats we chose for it are easily moved about and we’ve been able to carry out minor adjustments to things like the distance between rows and the angle of the back, all of which varies from one part of the auditorium to another, to test out our developing ideas on ourselves before testing them out on our audiences. The only difficulty is that The Courtyard Theatre is running flat out as our main theatre during the transition years and so we have to negotiate really hard to get our hands on it even for a couple of hours. The problems of access have recently compounded by the fact that the architecture of our new theatre is beginning to win awards and we are starting to have to negotiate with our colleagues about access for architectural judging panels as well as for seating trials.
In fact, The Courtyard Theatre was recently awarded an RIBA National Award and between the design team and the RSC we managed to fill two tables at the awards dinner. Exposure to the performing arts clearly had a 'dramatic' effect on the natural reticence of our seasoned construction professionals and 16 of our party ended up on stage to collect the award – a modest paper certificate – although it will be followed in due course by a more substantial lead plaque. The sheer volume of recipients prompted Mark Lawson who was compère for the event to ask 'how many people does it take to make a theatre?' Well, the answer is 'a great many' and I’ll try to remember to explain just how we consult with our colleagues across a very diverse range of interests in a future entry.