Glasgow's historic Citizens Theatre was built in 1878
UK - Theatre consultancy, Theatreplan has been appointed as the theatre consultant on the major redevelopment project at Glasgow's historic Citizens Theatre. Built in 1878, the Grade II listed theatre has seen a number of small-scale refurbishments and extensions, but the current scheme is the most comprehensive in its history.

The project has been earmarked for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Glasgow City Council, Creative Scotland and Historic Scotland that go a long way towards financing the transformations, which are far-reaching.

Mathew Smethurst-Evans, who is leading the Theatreplan team, explained, "This is a major project that incorporates significant improvements to the environment for both visitors and staff. Visitors will benefit from much improved public spaces to create a venue where they can experience much more than a theatre show. There will be purpose-built learning facilities for community activities and workshops, as well as greatly improved access throughout the building.

"The theatre gallery seating will be replaced to improve sightlines, increase capacity and increase the proportion of 'good seats'. This will be a phased project to enable theatre performances to continue on the site throughout the construction period. This creates significant technical and operational challenges - our experience on the phased refurbishment of the Sheffield Crucible will prove invaluable."

Roger Fox, Theatreplan's historic buildings specialist, added, "The Citizens retains examples of wooden stage machinery and has perhaps the oldest working scenery painting shop in Britain, which has two large frames for backcloths, raised and lowered by their original Victorian winches. As a result the redevelopment project will require sensitive management."

Theatre staff will also benefit from a greatly enhanced working environment as Theatreplan will be taking a fresh look at the requirements of the Citizens as a producing theatre, from get-in to construction, wardrobe and props through to lighting, sound and video.

Other highlights include a new Studio Theatre to complement the existing theatre and new learning spaces. The studio will provide an environment to suit new writing and the staging of productions in more intimate surroundings and alternative seating formats.

"We are looking forward to the exciting challenges ahead," continued Mathew, "and welcome the opportunity to be working with the theatre team and with Bennetts Associates Architects, with whom we had a successful collaboration designing the RIBA award-winning Hampstead Theatre in 2003."

Dominic Hill, artistic director of the Citizens Theatre commented, "I'm delighted that we'll be drawing on the expertise of Theatreplan to enable us to deliver our vision for a redeveloped Citizens Theatre which honours and builds upon the remarkable history of this theatre. We are assembling a team which includes some of the leading experts in theatre construction and development and I'm looking forward to working with Theatreplan as we embark on this project to ensure that the Citizens Theatre remains a vital part of Scotland's cultural life."

(Jim Evans)

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