Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021 - 39

theatres of Europe and the world, but remarkably few deal with theatres from the
second half of the 20th century.
Only to think of realizing this project as an individual and, at the
start, alongside your regular work was
quite daring. How did you get to practical
terms?
BTR:

A more recent influence on
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me and my collaborators has
been Richard Brett, the consultant who in
2002 initiated a series of conferences
about theatre buildings, their engineering, and technologies: the Theatre
Engineering and Architecture Conference
(TEAC). It grew and added the word
International to become (ITEAC) and was
repeated in 2006 and 2010, with Richard
at the helm as director. Following his untimely death, two further conferences
were held in 2014 and 2018 for which I
chaired the editorial boards.
Planning for the 2018 event began in
2015, when we discussed how the conference might benefit from speakers who
had undertaken research and analysis on
specific topics and theatres. Two ideas
emerged: 1) To ask leading thinkers and
experts in their fields to write essays on
specific topics, with a view to using these
to inform conference sessions and 2) To
ask architects, theatre people, consultants, etc., to re-appraise 30 " significant "
theatres that had opened between 1950
and 2010.
This book is a development of those
ideas, and it needed the recruitment of
experienced people as collaborators.
This could have been a complex, lengthy
task with many rejections, but amazingly,
the process was surprisingly smooth. A
mock-up was prepared and almost all
those approached were enthusiastic and
willing to be involved. Some 39 talented
people from 14 countries have contributed chapters to the book.
Three magazines were especially supportive and agreed to publish articles
as they became available from 2015 to
2020. They were:
* B├╝hnentechnische
Rundschau
(BTR), the journal of Deutsche
Theatertechnische Gesellschaft e.v.
(DTHG), the German Association devoted to theatre, its technicians, and
technologies.
* Sightline, the journal of the Association
of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT).

This carries articles about theatre technologies, theatre building safety, and
other significant issues.
* Theatre Design and Technology
Journal (TD&T), which has been published quarterly for more than 50 years
by the USITT, which promotes dialogue,
research, and learning among practitioners of theatre design and technology.
More than 30 articles have appeared
in these journals, in either English,
German or American English, leading up
to the publication of this book. It has reassured me to think that many of the classic
novels of Charles Dickens and other great
writers first appeared, in similar fashion,
as part-works.
Just as the world of publishing has
changed out of all recognition since
Dickens' day, so change has come to the
performing arts. Orchestras may continue to perform Bach, Brahms, and
Beethoven, but they also embrace new
music that challenges traditional forms.
Performing arts spaces have been transformed. Concert halls in 2020 are radically different from those constructed in
the 1950s, although opera houses have
seen rather less change. Thousands of
found spaces have been pressed into performance use.
BTR:

What does the title of modern refer to?

This book is entitled Modern
Theatres. By " modern " we
mean theatres that opened between 1950
and 2020, and we have used the word
" theatre " to embrace all types of performing arts building-playhouses or drama
theatres, opera houses, concert halls and
recital rooms, dance theatres, studios,
and educational and community performing arts spaces. A more comprehensive
but ungainly title would have been
" Modern Theatres, opera houses, concert
halls, playhouses, dance venues, and other spaces for live performance " .
The book is in three sections:
Essays. Several people have written
essays on topics relating to the cities,
buildings, architecture, and technologies
associated with theatre buildings.
Thirty significant theatres 1950 to
2010. The original intention was to review 30 significant theatres that opened
between 1950 and 2010. We wanted to
allow sufficient time after opening for a
fair evaluation and appreciation of each
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building to be made. So the list was cut
at 2010.
Theatres 2011 to 2020. The subsequent 10 years proved a rich period for
new theatres of all scales and types, so it
was decided to add snapshots of 20 further buildings-a selection of those completed between 2011 and 2020.
Having collaborated with the
book, I found it really interesting
to get a very broad insight into buildings,
because you asked the authors for a critical review. The Sydney Opera, probably
the most famous opera building in the
world, appears as a complete failure in
terms of practical use and acoustics.
Elbphilharmonie could follow this way.
BTR:

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The book intends to help
avoid these big mistakes.

What first conclusions can you
draw from the numerous articles
for the future of theatre buildings. What
are the most important points to
consider?
BTR:

Some observations based
on the book:
* Theatres can be hugely successful and
receive international acclaim but be
terrible theatre buildings, the Sydney
Opera House being probably the best
example. It has bad acoustics and poor
functionality, which have been considerably improved only recently.
*
Sydney was one of the first buildings
to reject the straight line and rectangle
and embrace curved forms. Sydney begat work by Gehry, Zaha Hadid, MAD
Architects, etc.
*
Selecting a famous architect or
" Starchitect " does not guarantee success. Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the
most acclaimed architects of the 20th
century but his only theatre, the Kalita
Humphreys in Dallas, is a disaster.
* A lot of small and very exquisite recital
halls have and are being built around
the world. They are rectangular with
high ceilings for good acoustics. They
are paneled in elegant pale wood and
are fundamentally rather boring. The
Boulez Saal in Berlin by Frank Gehry
breaks the mould.
*
The Philharmonie in Berlin is probably the most influential performing
arts building of the last 70 years. Before
were conventional shoebox halls. Hans
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SPRING 2021 | THEATRE DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY

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Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021

Contents
Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021 - Cover1
Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021 - Cover2
Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021 - 1
Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021 - Contents
Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021 - 3
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Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021 - Cover3
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