UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Theatre Vancouver Virdi, Nirbhai Singh


Theatres have existed throughout the human civilization as places of artistic expression and leisure. Throughout various Western cultures such as the Greek, Roman, Italian and Shakespearean etc., different theatre forms emerged. The essence of the theatre lies in the actor to audience relationship. With the invention of motion pictures, part of the theatre talent (actors, directors and technicians, etc.) switched to the motion picture industry and a further change took place with the more recent invention of television in 1927. Each industry thus created became a self-supporting form of art and the process strengthened the parent art due to competition and public demands for higher performance standards. I decided to design a theatre for Vancouver that satisfies the needs of the community. There are a number of variables that govern the design of a theatre such as: the needs of the local community as to the size and type of a theatre dictate the seating capacity and its functional usage (drama, opera, orchestra or multipurpose, etc.); economics dictate the administrative and technical structure and space-needs; and the desired actor to audience relationship dictate the stage design and seating layout. To establish a design program (space needs) a questionnaire was prepared and a number of persons connected with theatre arts were interviewed for comments and suggestions. The questions were designed to explore needs for - type of theatre, seating capacity, actor to audience relationship, orchestra size, public areas, stage design, workshop spaces, actors' accommodation, administrative organization, mechanical services and possibilities of an open-air-theatre, etc. A site for the proposed theatre was selected by establishing criteria for site selection and then testing a number of possible sites in the city against these criteria. Some of the criteria were: accessibility by car, rapid transit access, land costs, parking availability, site area, population distribution and proximity of buildings of other cultural/recreational usage and environmental setting. Out of five possible sites in the city, Vanier Park site was selected as the most appropriate site for the proposed theatre as it qualified best against the established criteria. The final proposed design has the following features: the theatre is sited towards the Music School building; public spaces such as lobbies, restaurants and lounges, etc., are directed to the best view towards -the Burrard Inlet, the downtown core and the mountains; basic actor to audience relationship has a 90 degree encirclement; seating capacity 800; stage design is a combination of proscenium stage and thrust stage with hydraulic lifts for changing scenery; a flytower over proscenium stage for flying and storing backcloths; provision for production, administrative and actor's spaces; workshops (scene shop, paint shop, metals shop and costume shop) large enough to put up a medium sized set; a projection room with light control and sound control rooms in between orchestra and balcony floors; a back stage projection room; four exits designed from each orchestra and balcony floor; stage designed with three fire-exits; technical areas designed with two fire exits and a small independent open-air-theatre for 150 seats. The only two modes of transportation - pedestrian and vehicular, have been separated from one another. Concrete is used as the primary material of construction with large span roofs of auditorium and fly-tower of steel-space-frame trusses. The sloping roofs are lined with orange coloured clay tiles. The main stage and rehearsal stage flooring is tongue and grooved Columbia-pine softwood. Orchestra and balcony floor is carpeted. A large lake is planned on the pedestrian plaza level with all elements of landscape. The proposed theatre can either be owned by the city as at present it owns a number of them or owned privately as many such ventures are running quite profitably.

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