There is a Theatre in the Park. After months of anticipation, suddenly, as if in an instant, we have it. A Theatre in the Park. A beautiful creation, looking like the original plans.
Again the weather has been playing at variations. This morning fog appeared on Oaklands Park and the site looked a little like Atget’s Paris. But not for long – the wind blew it away and the rain sobered up the view. But there is something doggedly optimistic about the Theatre in the Park – even in the drizzle it is summer. Bright and welcoming.
Although it all looks finished, there is a lot left to be done. Seating and rigging are being installed – the back stage area needs decoration and services; the expansive bar tent is, happily, due to appear; the lights will all be hung and then we may well be ready. Ready to welcome in the set designers and builders, the technicians and crew, Cameron Mackintosh and Timothy Sheader, and the entire cast- to turn our new space into a theatre. And that all must be done in under a month.
The staff and audience, rather like this blog, have been distracted by the white vision on the hill. It has been very easy to ignore our standard, dependable (if temporarily faded) home behind the hoardings. However there are great strides being made. The roof is being insulated- a membrane added in sections to increase acoustic and thermal performance; there are walls, ceilings and floors for the green room, wardrobe and wigs; ducts and cable are being installed in the auditorium; the holes in the park are being filled – the ground source heat pumps have their soak-aways. The penultimate concrete-pour will soon be happening to create the top floor extensions. The front of the Theatre is finally being treated to a little TLC, the damaged concrete is being stripped back, to be replaced with new colour-matched material. The whole structure will be cleaned so it shines. It will be a dramatic face lift. So by the time Theatre in the Park comes down and our attention turns back down the hill, the Festival Theatre will begin to look 30 years younger. Let’s hope she’ll take us back.
The Pajama Game has left us on a high swing of cheeriness and high kicking. In its place a very different beast – David Edgar’s thought-provoking If Only, directed by our Associate Angus Jackson. Sandwiched between our two musicals- a show of real power and insight.
Each month brings new challenges and announcements. The latest is of the triple Tony-winning Broadway legend Frank Langella coming to tackle one of theatre’s most challenging roles, King Lear, in the Minerva; a genuine privilege to see a great modern actor in that most intimate space. Other casting rumours abound. Set design plans are discussed. The summer season roles onwards, and we look forward to the circus…