Design collective Assemble and a team of volunteers have constructed a temporary theatre in West Sussex, England, out of scaffolding, chipboard and plastic pond liner (+ slideshow).
Behind the waterproof plastic exterior, Theatre on the Fly is filled with exposed ropes, pulleys, spotlights and scaffolding platforms, just like the fly tower on top of most theatres.
The audience sit on chunky chipboard steps to face both the stage and a set of huge doors behind, which open for performances taking place on the lawn outside.
Completed on a tight budget, the theatre is hosting a nine-week programme of plays, workshops and talks over the summer as part of the fiftieth anniversary celebrations of the Chichester Festival Theatre.
Assemble previously constructed a temporary cinema beneath a motorway flyover in London.
Photography is by Jim Stephenson.
Here's some information from Assemble:
Theatre On The Fly is a temporary theatre space commissioned by Chichester Festival Theatre as part of their 50th Anniversary celebrations.
Inspired by the fleet-footed Tent productions that gave birth to the Minerva Theatre, Theatre On The Fly is playing host to a 9 week summer program based around three plays directed by Chichester’s three apprentice directors.
Theatre On The Fly is conceived by Chichester Festival Theatre as an opportunity to express the extraordinary spirit and strength of support for the Theatre, both across the city and throughout the rest of the UK.
The existing Festival Theatre was built on public subscription, which, as well as being an expident way to raise funds during difficult economic times, also fostered a sense of shared ownership and acted as a testament to the importance of the theatre to the wider community that was harnessed through the involvement of an extremely varied group of participants during construction.
The construction was managed on site by Assemble and construction carried out, in the main, by over 40 volunteers ranging in age from 16-68.
Chichester Festival Theatre chose award-winning design-and-build collective Assemble, whose working method on previous projects including The Cineroleum and Folly for a Flyover reflects this participatory and experimental spirit, to lead the project.
Assemble’s design, which sits on the boundary between indoor and outdoor theatre, provides an extraordinary performance space for the summer programme and provides a capacity, in the form of fly-tower, that is absent in the main theatres on the site.
Assemble worked closely with the directors to create a project that is envisaged as a continuation and reassertion of Chichester’s history of innovative theatre and ground-breaking design; a small but vital part of a wider project to affirm and grow Chichester’s unique position at the fore-front of UK theatre. The space reveals and plays with the machinations and techniques of theatre-making.
The design is based on the fly tower, a theatrical device used for the hoisting and lowering of objects and scene out of and into audience view during a performance.Theatre on the Fly exposes the fly-tower mechanisms which are normally hidden from view, creating a chameleonic space capable of hosting both intimate productions and opening up to offer views of to the surrounding parkland. Over the course of the summer the space will also host an open programme of talks, workshops and screenings.
Built almost entirely from re-useable and recyclable materials and materials donated in-kind, the project sought both to maximise the possible scale of the project on a limited budget. One example of this is the facade, clad in a changeable, translucent fiberweb material typically used as a pond liner or road underlay and at a cost of just £300. Detailed with tall, structural seams that fix back to the scaffolding sub-frame with cable ties, this material is almost silent in wind and rain and, in combination with the corrugated bitumen roofing material contributes to an extraordinarily quiet exterior structure.
With the support of the Heller Foundation and Arts Council England, three young directors have trained at Chichester Festival Theatre during the last five years and it is their debut Chichester productions – Blue Remembered Hills, Playhouse Creatures and Fred’s Diner - that are at the heart of the Theatre on the Fly season. The space will also house an eclectic season of late night comedy, live music and cabaret, the Youth Theatre’s production of Noah, theatre activities for children, and Anniversary readings.
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