Perth Theatre re-opened its doors to the public with its first show in December 2017. The project to transform the original Edwardian Theatre in the centre of Perth was originally won in competition in September 2008 but faced a number of challenges before construction finally started early in 2016.
The project focuses on the conservation and restoration of Perth Theatre's historic category 'B' listed Edwardian auditorium. This is one of Scotland's oldest and most historic repertory theatres. The building itself was constructed in 1900 but it is part of a much longer history of theatre in Perth dating back to 1589.
The need to repair and restore the theatre proved the catalyst for a more ambitious plan to address not only all the accessibility and practical needs of a theatre in the 21st Century but also to provide for the aspirations of a vibrant producing theatre with a lively community programme by creating new Performance, Social and Workshop spaces.
The design proposed the restoration of the theatre; the refurbishment of the dressing room wing to the north of the stage and the demolition of all the additions built to the east of the building to allow the creation of a completely new Entrance, Foyer and 200 seat Studio Theatre.
The design focuses on revealing the original box of the theatre – exposing what was once its external side wall of brick within a new top lit triple height foyer and enjoying the moments where one passes from new to old through this wall. All the public facilities are then directly linked to this foyer – the studio and community spaces open directly off it and the cafe and bar sit within it at ground and first floor. The key goal of the scheme is to create simple, legible and accessible routes to all spaces - in contrast to the labyrinthine original layout - set within an uplifting place in which Theatre-goers can enjoy the whole theatre experience.
The new Entrance on Mill Street is part of a wider master-plan to make that street into a cultural hub with the concert hall at one end and the Theatre at the other and the theatre effectively turns itself around to do that but its old High Street entrance is also still available. Ownership issues meant we were never able to achieve a ground floor entrance from this doorway but the original entrance steps still bring you directly into the first floor of the foyer.
The new Studio Theatre, which is a fully flexible flat floored space with retractable seating for 200 is located at first floor level above the Mill Street entrance. Its reflective metal and glass exterior is back-lit to form the principal facade of the new theatre and includes a giant LED TV screen which can broadcast the shows within. There is also a second flexible performance room – which can be subdivided - for workshops and community activities.
The back of house wing includes refurbished dressing rooms, a new green room, rehearsal space and a production workshop and the new Dock area – which is discretely located to the side of the entrance and includes a new stage lift to serve the two principal spaces.
Construction started on site at the beginning of 2016 and the Theatre opened its doors on 8th December 2017
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