We had one of our regular trips around the construction site last week with Toby Farrow from Farrows Creative. Toby has been documenting the refurbishment work since just before it began, and we’ll be touring the site regularly with him until we re-open in September 2012. Our tour last week took us from tiny, recently uncovered cubby-holes in the depths of the theatre, to the splendid view of the old city from up on the roof of Cooper’s Hall. The site seems to change dramatically every time we go in – walls have been removed, tiles taken off and replaced again, temporary floors installed and so on. Here are some of the photos from the shoot. The photo below shows the newly restored roof of the auditorium, which you may remember was, until recently, stripped of tiles and sitting under a temporary scaffold roof. It has now been restored, insulated and the tiles carefully replaced. It’s almost impossible to tell that anything has happened to it.
This, just next to the auditorium roof, is the scaffolding surrounding a huge new metal frame over the rehearsal room. This frame will form the glass roof of the rehearsal space, and will make a huge difference to the artists making work in there.
Now we’re right down in the belly of the theatre, and this photo is of the excavation of the pit passage, ready for a new floor to be constructed. The wall to the left is the back wall of the stalls seating area.
This is the dress circle, where before the work began, you would have entered through the double doors on the left of the picture. The wooden frame on the right is in front of new ventilation equipment. You might also notice three of the old seats sitting under a black cloth at the back of the shot.
Here’s the upper circle. We noticed recently that the sightlines of the stage are excellent if you sit on the floor of the upper circle, which could mean that at some point there were no seats in this area and people used the tiered floor as bench seating.
Moving down again, these shots are of the paintshop, which as you can see hasn’t changed that much yet. What you do get a sense of in this space is how huge it is – and how exciting it will be when it re-opens as a new performance space.
And finally, here is one of the most exciting things we’ve made recently. The photo below shows a patch of wall, which until work started on the theatre was undiscovered. It’s in the stage right wings (or to the left of the stage if you’re sitting in the audience!), and it’s an etching of a galleon, probably scratched onto the wall by a bored actor as he waited to go on stage.
We’re not sure of the date, but above it, in 1859, someone called EJ Harwell etched their name into the wall. Who was EJ Harwell? Did he also draw the galleon? We may never know…