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Places for Performance: New Directions
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Sessions

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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'.

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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).


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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.


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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.


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Historic Theatres: Can We Make Them Fit for Purpose in the 21st C?

[title change]

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?


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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.


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Mid-Century Masterpieces

The mid-twentieth century saw a boom in large theatres and arts centres built in a heroic architectural style. Since then theatre and architecture have both moved on, while concrete buildings quickly declined into shabbiness and won little affection from the public. We take two case studies, Ottawa’s National Arts Centre, and the National Theatre in London, and ask how masterpieces of the 60s and 70s can be brought back to life.


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Should We Use Engineering Technology to Provide Flexible Theatres?

[new title]

This session will explore various approaches to flexible venue making.  Each uses engineering and technology to create a more flexible space that can be used in a variety of ways, or moved between locations.  But is this expense worth it, and what are the advantages to be gained?


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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.


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Acoustics, Amplification & Theatre Design

Why do actors find it increasingly difficult to make themselves heard without amplification in theatres designed primarily for the spoken word? Is it caused by excessive architectural volume required to accommodate increased technical provision overhead, or are actors losing the ability to vocally project? Is amplification an acceptable solution? A discussion between designers and users.


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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. Cities and nations with growing populations are seeking new places for culture. This rapid change is both exciting and challenging.


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Stage Engineering: out with the old, in with the new

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There is an increasing need to refurbish and upgrade engineering systems in working venues. This brings 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, the successes and the failures encountered along the way.


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Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in the Design Process

Most people know that Virtual and Augmented Reality are exploding in several industries, but few people are aware of how quickly the toolkit is expanding to assist in the design process. Join VR/AR experts to discuss the present capabilities and future developments for immersive visualisation and auralisation in the design industry. Examples will include live 3D sketching, VR-enabled team work sessions, auditorium geometry development, acoustical modelling, and production pre-visualisation, such as the recent Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway.


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Digital Interaction in Analogue Spaces

[title change]

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.


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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. Should it reminds us that theatre’s reliance on technology to create magic is a very contemporary thing?


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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?


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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. The panel will discuss spaces that have inspired them and shaped their thinking, and what their own Core Values for theatre space actually are.


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Theatre on the Move

Temporary theatres have been a striking part of the recent theatre scene. Companies build temporary space during capital projects, festivals construct temporary stages, and touring companies take theatres on the road. Our panel presents four case studies: Assemble’s Playing Field, Paines Plough’s Roundabout, DE-SO’s Theatre Ephemere in Avignon, and Haworth Tompkins’ Shed. We discuss what makes them work, what new opportunities they give theatres, and what they mean for the work on stage.


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Opening the Doors

The theatre audience and community are 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 bring together a panel of practitioners who have reached out to wider communities and can talk about their own way into the arts, and how they have worked with others to open the doors.


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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.


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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 Bridge Theatre: A New Theatre for London

The Bridge Theatre is the first commercial venue of its size to be built in London for sixty years. It was conceived by the same team that guided twelve years of triumphant artistic and financial success at the subsidised Royal National Theatre, Nicholas Hytner & Nick Starr.

Delegates will hear how the creation of the 900-seat venue made extensive use of the available engineering design tools, producing a space that it would not have been possible to conceive just twenty-five years ago.

The session takes place at The Bridge Theatre; it will look at the theatre’s inception, the drivers for and constraints upon the design, and includes the opportunity to explore the venue both pre & post-session.


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Is it Real? The Use of Digital Technologies to Enhance Performance

Digital technologies are now being used to create both the theatre environment and enhance/create performers on the stage. This session looks at the complex tools being used to create ground-breaking visual enhancements to the audience experience.


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Theatre Automation: The Move to Product and the Connected Theatre

Theatre automation systems for any one project used to be custom and monolithic in nature, supplied by a single company. However, as the industry matures, there is a move towards standard systems being supplied from a number of suppliers using standardised products as an increasing part of the solution. Will we see the engineering equivalent of the open lighting and sound systems? Three leading proponents provide their views.


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New Theatres Showcase

Three or possibly four very diverse projects will be showcased from different countries and situations. The Shed in New York is one of the most unusual and flexible performance and arts spaces conceived in recent decades. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre in Athens has over 50,000 m2 of space and includes a fully equipped, sophisticated opera house to become the new home of the Greek National Opera, an experimental theatre and a new building for the National Library of Greece. By contrast the Hardelot Theatre in France is an intimate 388 seat wooden venue.


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Heavy Lifting: Stage Engineering, is it worth it?

Stage Engineering systems can be complex and expensive. Despite this they often end up idle or underutilised. In this session three very different venues talk about the technologies behind their extensive stage engineering systems, why they invested in the technologies and how they get the most out of their stage systems in performance.


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Bursting the Bubble: LED, Regulation and the Future of Lighting

The LED lighting fixture has finally come of age however it is still not universally adopted. The filament bulb is still in widespread use and beloved by many. LED fixtures demand a completely different approach to control infrastructure - an expensive and disruptive change for existing buildings, and what if you still want to mix fixture types? Complicating things: new EU legislation that could force out not just filament lamps, but many current entertainment LED fixtures during 2020. What does this all mean when designing and installing the infrastructure for modern entertainment lighting systems in new buildings, or maintaining and updating an existing building? How should specifiers deal with a rapidly changing world, where environmental and regulatory factors are becoming ever more significant?


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Raising the Standard

Twenty years ago, there were hardly any engineering standards specific to the theatre industry. Thanks to the hard work of many individuals within the entertainment industry there are now a raft of standards created both in Europe and the USA. This session will look at these emerging standards and the effects that they will have on a once unregulated industry.


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Keynote Presentation: Graham Vick

Graham Vick is the Artistic Director of Birmingham Opera Company, and works in the world’s major opera houses with the world’s leading conductors, including Muti, Levine, Haitink, Gergiev, Runnicles, Ozawa and Mehta. His pioneering work in Birmingham has attracted the attention of people and companies worldwide. Although a small operation, Birmingham Opera Company is now seen to be at the forefront of the modernisation of opera and a pioneer in its development as a 21st century art form.

Current projects include Britten’s Death in Venice in Berlin, Die Tote Stadt at La Scala, Semiramide in Pesaro and a new commission by Giorgio Battistelli for Birmingham Opera Company.


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How ‘circular’ can the Theatre Industry be?

The UK Government’s industrial strategy published late 2017 outlined its ambition to transition towards a Circular economy. EU policy is similar. It is worth exploring how ‘Circular’ our sector currently is, and what system shifts are required to gradually decouple business activity from the consumption of finite resources. ‘An economy that is regenerative by design, analogous to a living system’. Such a description only scratches the surface; this seminar aims to explore further.


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The Role of Theatre Architecture in Creating Meaning

We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us,” reflected Winston Churchill in 1943. Throughout history theatre architecture has been inseparable from the culture and social structure of the time.  In this session a group of expert practitioners will explore how theatre architecture can affect the language and meaning of performance, unlock their imagination and give their work context.


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The Artistic Directors’ Perspective

When a new artistic director comes into post they must learn how the building they’ve inherited works; spotting tripwires as well as understanding where opportunities lay. To what extent does the physical reality of a building shape an artistic director’s tenure; influence their artistic plans; determine how their company interacts with staff, artists, and audiences? Artistic directors discuss what they have learned about the buildings they run and the impact this has on the work they do.


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Bodies in Space

Rehearsal spaces for dance must serve a dual purpose: meet the physical needs of the dancers’ bodies and provide stimulating environments for them as artists. How can a rehearsal space best shape and hold creative practices in dance? Dancers and choreographers reflect on rehearsal spaces they have loved creating and rehearsing work in, spaces that have inspired them, and the practical features of a rehearsal room that support their wellbeing.


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New Technologies for Live Entertainment

This session looks at 2 ground-breaking technologies that are being applied to live entertainment.  The work of the NT is revolutionising the surtitle with technology that is disruptive, ground-breaking and game changing.  In a very different area Verity are introducing hi tech drones to the live entertainment space. This session explores the challenges of introducing these technologies, and the enhanced audience experience that results.


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Noise in the Orchestra Pit

What do recent court decisions mean for the design of orchestra pits and concert platforms? We’ll review the latest information about noise exposure and legislation and consider what responsibilities designers and venues have in protecting the hearing of performers and technicians. Design guidance for orchestra pits and rehearsal rooms will be presented along with operational concerns for venue and company managers.


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Virtual Reality Showcase

A chance for delegates to take a serious look at the practical utility of this technology, sample equipment and experience the technology.

Keynote Presentation: Nick Starr

Nick Starr was Executive Director of the National Theatre 2002-2014 alongside Nicholas Hytner (NT Director 2003-15) with whom he founded London Theatre Company and then opened the new 900-seat Bridge Theatre in October 2017.


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Keynote Presentation: Elizabeth Diller

Elizabeth Diller is a founding partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), a New York-based design studio. She is currently leading two cultural works significant to New York – The Shed and the expansion of the Museum of Modern Art – as well as designing the Centre for Music, a permanent home for the London Symphony Orchestra.


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