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Studio Theatre for Newcastle

A key component of the current refurbishment works at St Pius X High School in Adamstown, Newcastle, designed by Morrell Architects, is the inclusion of a 600 seat studio theatre. The project is an adaptive reuse of the former Lustre hosiery factory constructed in 1950.

Lustre factory

By definition, the studio theatre, or ‘black box’, doesn’t contain moving stage machinery, but through the configuration of seating and the stage area, the space becomes extremely flexible. The underlying concept is that by reducing the reliance on technology, greater emphasis is placed on the essence of the production itself.

Essential technology is included in the St Pius X theatre, such as fully adaptable lighting and sound capabilities. A fixed grid lighting bar assembly over the stage area, together with back of house lighting and following spots, can be adapted to suit an array of production, performance and staging techniques.

Cutaway image of Theatre 1

The plan form at St Pius X is an adaptation of a Roman theatre, itself an interpretation of Greek theatre design where the audience occupies tiered seating in a semi-circle overlooking a flat stage area with a permanent backdrop or skene. No audience member is further than 20 metres from any point on the stage floor; a distance from which facial expression can be recognised. The acoustic quality of the theatre is enhanced by the avoidance of parallel wall surfaces and the careful consideration of echoes and resonances through specialised surface treatment.

The main roof truss system at St Pius X, nine metres above the floor level, has been designed to take the loads expected for different types of scenery, lighting and stage settings.

The stage area is directly accessible through large sliding doors from the street. Vehicles can be driven onto the stage floor. Performers have access to a “Green Room” and dedicated shower and change facilities.

The theatre stage is accessible by vehicles

Serving the foyer and entry area for the theatre is a cafe and commercial kitchen, designed as a training facility.

The complex also contains a 70 seat theatre designed as a smaller version of the main theatre but with the same flexibility and audio-visual capabilities.

The complex, being constructed by Kingston Building at a cost of $5 million, is due for completion in March 2012 and, even though principally designed for school use, public hiring will be possible.

This entry was posted on 25 October 2011 at 3:43 PM and is filed under Architecture, Project News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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