Designing a modern theatre

 4 February 2011

Graham Lister, Production Manager, talks about the unique design of the Curve Theatre in Leicester. The exposed nature of the theatre allows the audience to see behind the scenes.

21st Century theatre

"The Leicester City Council decided that they wanted to replace the old Haymarket Theatre with a brand new building. They appointed a published architect to work with the theatre trust to re-imagine what a theatre building for the 21st Century should look like, in a multicultural city like Leicester.

"Curve sits in the centre of the Cultural Quarter, and it's part of a huge regeneration programme that's going on in Leicester.”

"The brief we gave them was to look at ways you could extend some of the performers' platforms that you would have in a theatre. So we looked at ways of extending those platforms out into the foyer spaces.

“For example, the opening event for Lift Off had performers, acrobats, circus performers in the foyers. They were all properly lit, they had sound systems attached to them, etc. So it was a way of going, actually, let's look at perhaps telling some of the back story of theatre, look at ways of celebrating some of the craft of theatre-making.”

A new design for theatre

"When you go around the building, it will appear to be a building that's very different to most theatres. We very deliberately exposed areas of the building that you wouldn't normally see.

“There are times when we're able to lift up two huge 32-tonne steel shutters that surround the stage area. These shutters allow audiences to look directly onto stage. So the whole process of getting the show ready and building a set and doing rehearsals can actually be done in view of the audiences if we so choose to.

"Just by lifting up separating steel walls, acoustic panels, essentially, you can actually have one huge performance area which can be used for carnival, for street theatre, those sorts of activities. It's quite a dynamic and exciting building."

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