Four Questions #1: Sarah Smith, Project Director

Here’s the first in a series of posts where we ask key people involved in the refurbishment four questions about the project. First up, Sarah Smith, Project Director:

What has been the most surprising discovery for you during this process?

We’ve discovered so much about the auditorium during the refurbishment – in particular, the original flag-stone floor under the stage, the original level of the Pit (stalls).  It’s been fascinating discussing how these discoveries inform our knowledge of this history of the theatre with the archaeologists.

What has been the most exciting moment for you so far?

Exposing the timbers of the roof and finding them in pretty good condition after 245 years.

What are you looking forward to most?

I think completing the work in the auditorium and seeing the reaction of our audiences when we re-open.

What’s the best thing about your role on the project?

The privelege of being involved in the refurbishment of the oldest working theatre in the country.

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One thought on “Four Questions #1: Sarah Smith, Project Director

  1. inkleandyarico says:

    Yes, the discoveries at Bristol are exactly what I’ve been telling Sarah and others they would be for the last 20 years. In 2007, I met Dennis Burn, and told him that "restoring the 1766 stage front and having spectators on three sides of the stage will make every performance staged in the main house successful." I also said "You must consider having only one Trustee Board because, having two – one for the building and one for productions – denies the significance of your most important asset: the 1766 auditorium." I also told the heritage team the position of the 1766 wooden staircase, the position of the moving scene painters’ bridge in the loft, the position of the stgae-boxes on both sides of the stage floor, the 1766 position of the stage doors upstage of the stage boxes and exactly 33ft from the 1766 rear wall, and provided many other pieces of primary source research, some of which they have published without acknowledgement to me. The heritage team have made a number of wonderful structural discoveries but are failing to place these in the proper context of 18th century life. It’s vital that spectators sit on three sides of the stage floor when this theatre reopens, or Tom and other directors will fail to see the purpose of that perfectly circular auditorium: to engage spectators in the play by sitting them around the stage floor on three sides.

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