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Places for Performance: New Directions


Keynote Plenary sessions, designed to be both stimulating and provocative, will kick-start and/or close each day of ITEAC 2018. Debates, interviews, panel discussions, micro-sessions and learned discourse will be peppered through-out.

Once a Session has been allocated a place in the timetable, that information will be posted under 'Schedule' (to be published).


Keynote Presentation: Francine Houben

Keynote Presentation: Francine Houben

Francine Houben is one of the world’s most experienced architects and author of People, Place, Purpose. Mecanoo, her practice, has created many significant new buildings and places for the arts including the National Kaohsiung Arts Centre in Taiwan, cultural centres in China and the acclaimed Library of Birmingham (UK).

Keynote Presentation: Paul Griffiths

Keynote Presentation: Paul Griffiths

As CEO of Dubai Airport, Paul Griffiths is involved in the development and evolution of a small Arab state into a major middle eastern country. He is also responsible for major construction projects.

Keynote Presentation: Ascan Mergenthaler

Keynote Presentation: Ascan Mergenthaler

Ascan Mergenthaler is Senior Partner of architects Herzog & de Meuron. He has led the realization of the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg as well as the Tate Modern Project in London and the Blavatnik School of Government in Oxford.

This House Believes: Old Theatres Should be Knocked Down

Historic theatres are protected buildings, which are often much loved by the public and by artists, but the process of making them fit for purpose in the 21st century can be highly intractable, involving complex conservation issues. Should they become museums or can they evolve as successful working theatres, which meet the needs of artists, technicians and audiences?

Lessons from the 20th Century

The 20th Century began as a fertile period for theatre architecture, but experienced an enormous mid-century slump and a reasonably encouraging finish. Now that it is well behind us, we can begin to assess the good, the bad, and the ugly, and discuss the century’s most important and lasting contributions to the field. A number of architects, consultants, theatre people and experts will briefly present twenty of the most significant theatres completed between 1950 and 2010. At the end we will ask delegates to vote on the most significant theatre from the second half of the 20th Century.

Mid-Century Masterpieces

The mid-twentieth century saw a boom in large theatres and arts centres built (often in concrete) in a heroic architectural style. Since then theatre and architecture have both moved on. ‘Brutalist’ buildings quickly declined into shabbiness and won little affection from the public. We take some case studies and ask how masterpieces of the 60s and 70s can be brought back to life.

Transformable Floors & Flexible Theatres

Since roughly 2006 there has been the resurgence of a very old idea – floor mechanisms that can transform a raked seating geometry into a flat floor to expand the utility of a venue. What is the economic and artistic case for a transformable floor? What impacts does it have on building and systems planning and layout? This session will focus on case studies of completed venues that have achieved flexibility and use it in different ways.

Concert Hall Design & Acoustics

Concert Hall Design & Acoustics

New concert halls are being planned, designed and constructed worldwide at an unprecedented pace. Recent projects in China, Hamburg, Paris, and Berlin will be explored. This session brings together those involved – clients, architects, theatre and acoustic consultants to explore current trends in these buildings, their acoustics and technologies. It will discuss and explore future direction for buildings for music.

Acoustics, Amplification & Theatre Design

Why are theatres designed primarily for the spoken word becoming increasingly difficult for actors to make themselves heard, without amplification? Is this caused by excessive volume, often driven by increased technical provision overhead, or are actors losing the ability to project? Is amplification an acceptable solution? A discussion between designers and users.

New Cities, Countries & Opportunities

Europe and North America have been at the heart of music, opera, theatre and entertainment for decades (centuries?). New countries are emerging in the Middle East, cities are rapidly developing and evolving in Asia and around the world. The arts and entertainment axis is changing. Growing populations and cities seek new places for culture. This rapid change presents new opportunities.

Stage Systems - Renewal & Replacement

There is an increasing need to refurbish and upgrade engineering systems in working venues. These bring a host of challenges to the project teams involved. Venues that are at different stages of the process will talk about the approaches that they have taken to the work, the challenges, successes and failures along the way.

Virtual & Augmented Reality

Virtual and Augmented Reality are exploding as an industry, and trying to find their place in contemporary gaming, media, art, entertainment, and the workplace.  Learn what’s happening now, and what is coming very soon.
A VR/AR “petting zoo” will be available at the conference, so you can sample some of the equipment and experiences yourselves.

Digital Interaction in Public Spaces

Our daily experience is constantly mediated by digital interactivity, and as this trend continues the task of designing our built environment will be as much about designing the interactive experiences that happen in that space as it will be about form, function and materiality.  This session will explore what this might mean specifically for our theatre buildings and how technology and the built environment can inform one another.

Theatre by Candlelight

Recreating lost theatres not only teaches us about the writing and performance practices that were shaped by them; it can tell us something new about theatre. The Sam Wanamaker Theatre, based on a seventeenth century model, is an intensely intimate space in which performances are presented lit only by candlelight. It reminds us that theatre’s reliance on technology to create magic is a very contemporary thing.

Are Theatres an Opportunity or a Burden?

When every other show seems to be site specific or challenging traditional theatre forms, we wonder whether artists even want the formal theatre buildings which are so often created for them.  How do we measure the value of our buildings to the communities they serve, and should we be spending money on bricks and mortar at all?

Core Values in Theatre Architecture

Today's theatre artists choose to perform in an ever-wider assortment of spaces - purpose built theatres, adapted buildings, and found spaces. As the definition of theatre space continues to evolve along with the art form it contains, and as technology, commerce, and economic pressures impact artistic decisions, recalling what it is about theatre space itself that we truly value becomes increasingly important.

Theatre on the Move

Companies build temporary space during capital projects, festivals construct temporary stages in places that have no theatre, and touring companies take moveable theatres with them on the road. Temporary theatres have been a striking part of the recent theatre scene. Our panel discusses what makes them work, what new opportunities they give theatres in escaping buildings and reaching new audiences, and what they mean for the work on stage.

Opening the Doors

The theatre audience and community is often criticised as too narrow. How can it include more people? And what does it feel like for new users to go into buildings which might seem unfamiliar or unwelcoming? We talk about how theatres can open their doors - and what they can learn from the experience.

New Directions into the 21st Century

Speculation about the future usually reveals more about current obsessions than it does about future events, but is nevertheless intriguing and important to consider. A diverse panel of artists, technologists, and futurists will offer their speculation on the key trends and developments in theatre and theatre architecture will be seen in the 21C, and this will conclude with an open-mic plenary discussion.

Keynote Presentation: Mark Rylance

A brilliant award-winning stage and screen actor, Mark’s work includes a 10-year tenure as the first Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (1996-2006), which included the construction of the Theatre and International Shakespeare Globe Centre. He founded the organisation’s Architectural Review Group, which is at present reviewing the architectural decisions of 1996-97 in the light of twenty years’ experience of playing at the Globe.

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The International Theatre Engineering and Architecture Conference 2018 is promoted by Theatrical Events Limited, New Bridge Street House, 30-34 New Bridge Street, London, EC4V 6BJ, registered in England and Wales number 04313249, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Association of British Theatre Technicians. Full information…