In tech now in a familiar space but with new challenges. I have worked in the Roundhouse several times from grubby pre redevelopment days with Oh what a Lovely war and then an RSC Tempest, and then several more times with the RSC with our purpose designed Roundyard, which tried to tame the buildings challenging acoustics for the spoken word. This was a freestanding auditorium structure which sat within the pillars , with a capacity of about 750. It had ply backings and a balcony front which helped create reflective surfaces for the voice in a thrust format. We also used a ceiling of sails to try and put a lid on the space, which had a strange sonic boom if you talked on the centre point. All of these experiences have fed into my response to the space for this Renaissance masterpiece, I was stunned to find out that the ROH and Roundhouse felt they could sell over 1400 seats a night and that the design had to accommodate this, even more shocked as i write now that we seem to be nearly sold out ! We are to have seats right to the back of the space and potentially a huge acoustic challenge .

So my design, which has evolved over the last year through challenging costing exercises, has a raw aesthetic; exposed steel deck and scaffolding as all we could afford, but actually a good look for the space with its music gig vibe. Most of the money has gone on a ceiling, which gives that vital reflective lid and hopefully stops the singer’s voice from disappearing into the rafters. I have had to create an area for the orchestra as a key character in the piece, indeed they are Orfeo’s Lyre , so they sit upstage in the space on the back of the lower of two stage discs.The stage circle is cut through with a dramatic walkway right from the back of the space to the the back wall which opens to carry on into the bowels of the building. Across the back wall, which holds up the ceiling, is a balcony over the orchestra area on which sit the God’s in judgement. For a long time i was interested in a white hospital inspired aesthetic, the God’s as surgeons looked down on the patient below as in old fashioned teaching operating theatres, but Jean Kalman our lighting designer was worried that the white would not enable him to have any control with the light bounce within the space, especially in a semi in the round format. Also in discussions with Michael we moved away from terminal ward end of life fantasy  to a mirroring  of the Earthly and Subterranean courts with the Gods sitting in judgement over the proceedings. So i looked instead at Court rooms and have gone for a dark wood stained ply for my world, that will take colour but not have the bounce of white.

great review from the Guardian

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