This dissertation is formed of a single case study, employed to analyse contemporary developments in theatre practice and how these are testing the relationship between theatre and its architecture. The dissertation also considers how the established system for designing and delivering buildings fails to meet the specific needs of the arts organisation. The case study begins with an architectural and artistic history of the Battersea Arts Centre, originally Battersea Town Hall, highlighting how the artistic tendencies of the management teams found architectural expression. Plans for redevelopment with Levitt Bernstein Architects in the 1990’s and the beginning of the innovative ‘Scratch process’ are detailed in chapter two. The three key principles of Scratch, improvisation, collaboration and taking time, are examined. Chapter three introduces Haworth Tompkins Architects and examines in more detail how the scratch process was transposed onto the architectural process through the analysis of The Masque of the Red Death, a production by the theatre company Punchdrunk. Chapter three arrives at a definition of the new process called ‘Playgrounding’. A subsidiary case study of Teatro Oficina in Sao Paolo is included to highlight a comparative example of an architectural process based on improvisation, collaboration and taking time. In the final part of chapter three the focus shifts to the established architectural process and an analysis of the proposals Playgrounding makes to the orthodoxy of a linear Plan of Work. These proposals are approached in four areas: phasing, conservation, funding and liability. The challenges of stepping outside this system are reflected upon. A conclusion is drawn about the potential of Playgrounding to create a positive framework for managing creative risk taking. Finally, the possibility of a new orthodoxy of theatre space based on this process is considered.



I would like to thank Professor Alan Short, Dr. Francois Penz and Dr. Alistair Fair at the Architecture Department, University of Cambridge, for their guidance and insight throughout the writing of this dissertation. Dr. Phillip Pattenden, Peterhouse for his continued support of my academic endeavours. Steve Tompkins of Haworth Tompkins Architects for his time and interest in this dissertation. David Jubb, David Micklem and Richard Couldrey of Battersea Arts Centre for giving their time, for their generosity in sharing information, for allowing me constant access to BAC’s archives and most importantly for making me part of the process. Thanks are also due to everyone who agreed to be interviewed for this dissertation, in particular Jude Kelly, South Bank Centre, whose thoughts on artists, architecture and communities provided a frame for this dissertation.

Since completing this dissertation I have begun work as Manager of Parabola Arts Centre in Cheltenham, a newly opened building. I have also been awarded a full AHRC Grant to pursue a PhD in Performance Practice at Exeter University in order to take forward some of the discoveries made through this research.

allegragalvin@gmail.com 07793000723




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Chapter 1

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Battersea Arts Centre in context 1893 – 1995

Chapter 2 ‘The shock of the new’: Tom Morris and Levitt Bernstein Architects 2.1 The beginning of ‘scratch’

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Chapter 3 ‘Playgrounding’: David Jubb and Haworth Tompkins Architects 3.1 Playgrounding and scratch in The Masque of the Red Death Improvisation Collaboration Taking Time 3.2 3.3 A wider context for Playgrounding: Lina Bo Bardi and Teatro Oficina Playgrounding and the architectural process: Phasing Conservation Funding Liability

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Conclusion An architecture of improvisation

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Interviews conducted

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List of Illustrations

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Contemporary Theatre Practice informing the Design and Delivery of Capital Arts Projects

This dissertation explores an alternative approach to designing and delivering Capital Arts Projects through the medium of a single case study of the Battersea Arts Centre. The principle question posed by this dissertation is ‘What answers can innovative forms of developing theatre, such as ‘Scratch’, offer as an alternative approach to the redevelopment of existing space, particularly those for artistic use, in terms of architectural process?’. The volatile and complex history of the late Victorian Battersea Arts Centre is investigated. It reveals the changing approaches to conservation and to the making of theatre space in an historic building.

‘Playgrounding’ is a term coined by David Jubb, the present Co-Artistic Director of Battersea Arts Centre (henceforward BAC). BAC is funded by the Arts Council England as a development

organisation. This means that its focus is on supporting and developing new work. BAC developed a process around this remit called ‘Scratch’. ‘Scratch’ is now carried out, with minor variances, in theatres across London (such as the Royal Court’s ‘Rough Cuts’), in the regions (The Cambridge Junction’s ‘Jam nights’) and abroad (Sydney Opera House ‘Scratch’). Scratch at BAC is based on three principles, necessary to develop a new piece of theatre: the need to experiment and take risks, the need to share ideas and respond to feedback and the need to take time to develop ideas. Playgrounding should be understood as the transposition of these three principles onto the architectural process. By starting the architectural process with the same principles as one would begin the creative process in theatre, Playgrounding has become a design process of architectural improvisation that places artists and audiences at the centre of the architectural process.

The dissertation is organised around the three significant periods of the building’s architectural development: The period in which it functioned as a town hall from 1893 to 1965 and was then used as a community arts centre from 1983 to 1996, the period from 1996 to 2004 in which the first major Capital redevelopment was proposed to transform it into a theatre and finally the period in which Playgrounding emerged as a new approach to the architecture from 2004 to 2008. Each chapter will analyse how the artistic principles of the organisation were reflected in the use of the architecture.

Chapter one describes BAC in the context of its original function as a town hall, its loss of function in 1965, plans for its demolition and reconstruction, the conservation listing in 1970 and finally its adapted function as a community arts centre from 1983. Chapter two covers the building’s

development from a community arts centre into a theatre. The first comprehensive plans for Capital Redevelopment, designed by Levitt Bernstein Architects, will be analysed in some detail. The

development and basic principles of the ‘Scratch’ process will be described. Chapter three will cover the Co-Artistic Directorship of David Jubb and David Micklem, Steve Tompkins’ work with BAC, the emergence of Playgrounding and the challenges and solutions Playgrounding poses to a traditional


architectural process. Playgrounding will be analysed in more detail in relation to the production of ‘The Masque of the Red Death’ by the theatre company Punchdrunk. The changing approach to conservation and BAC’s acceptance onto the English Heritage Pilot Programme for Heritage Partnership Agreements is investigated in this context. A subsidiary case study will be included, highlighting the work of Lina Bo Bardi at Teatro Oficina and its influence on the work taking place at BAC.

The discussion will review what alternative Playgrounding offers to the current architectural process for Capital Arts Projects and to the conservation and adaptation of a listed building from the evidence collected. This proposed method for successfully managing the relationship between fabric and function in adapted buildings leads to the recommendation of this approach for three reasons: economical viability, sustainability and increased creativity. The concluding principle is that not only should a building adapt to a new function, a function (even one as specific as theatre) should adapt to a building. By not attempting to impose accepted expectations of theatre configuration and

architecture onto an adapted space, practitioners will be forced to step outside the orthodoxies of their form and they will develop new work (architectural and theatrical) that challenges the limits of what we now recognise as theatre space.



To successfully define the alchemy of a theatre space, in words or bricks and mortar, is as elusive to the writer as to the architect. The debate has been significantly complicated since the 1950’s, when the basic requirements of the audience being able to see and hear the performance were no longer considered fundamental, throwing into doubt the very essence of what constitutes a theatre space. The question of what makes a good theatre space belongs to the personal, protean writings of a memoir, or the polemic of journalism. And yet since 1994 the Arts Council have spent £1.4 billion through Lottery Funding developing arts buildings. So although the definition of what makes a good theatre space may be steeped in theoretical subjectivity and contradictions, the process of building them belongs very much to the real world. A decade on from the closing of the Lottery Fund and with the prospect of capital funding re-opening, the need to consider in depth the successes and failures of the scheme is pressing. The aims of this dissertation are less ambitious in scope, relying on the research conducted by Alistair Fair for his recent PhD on British theatre architecture from 1926-1991 and the findings of the study led by Professor Alan Short, Designing Dynamic Environments for the Performing [DeDEPA] to justify the analysis of an alternative design and delivery process.

As to what makes a good theatre space, this dissertation necessarily makes a fundamental, potentially subjective assumption. A ‘good’ theatre space is neither defined by its technical capabilities, including sightlines, acoustics, comfort of seating or ease of lighting nor by a naïve, rough found space quality in the model of Peter Brook’s experiment at Bouffes du Nord. Either of these types of theatre can be a ‘good’ performance space. To draw conclusions based on the assumption that either one of these has more value than the other would be to measure current practice against a yardstick of outmoded values. In an article introducing the findings of the DeDEPA study Short defined ‘better’ buildings for the performing arts as ‘buildings where the original creative vision has survived intact’.

Let us

therefore assume that a ‘good’ theatre is one in which the creative potential of the users is fulfilled. Within that context, this dissertation explores how innovative methods of making theatre could inform the established design process to encourage the evolvement of vision and the centrality of the user throughout a capital project. The exploration is conducted through the medium of a single case study of the Battersea Arts Centre. The second parameter of this dissertation is defined by the case study itself: it looks at the process of redeveloping spaces, rather than new builds.

The volatile and complex history of the late Victorian Battersea Arts Centre [BAC] reveals the changing approaches over the last three decades to the making of theatre space in an historic building. Playgrounding, the term for the alternative process developed at BAC, which emerged from a collaboration between three key parties: Steve Tompkins, of Haworth Tompkins Architects, David
1 2

Building Excellence in the arts: a guide for clients, Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, 2008, p.3 Short, A., Designing dynamic environments for the performing arts, Theatres, Issue 9, Autumn 2006, p.10


Jubb, the artistic director of BAC and Felix Barrett, the artistic director of the theatre company Punchdrunk. Playgrounding should be understood as the transposition of the principles of innovative methods of making theatre onto the architectural process. By starting the architectural process with the same principles as one would begin the creative process in theatre, Playgrounding has become a design process of architectural improvisation that places artists at the centre of the architectural process. The origins of Playgrounding in BAC’s architecture and theatre programme, Haworth

Tompkins’s previous work and Punchdrunk’s practice will be analysed and the basic characteristics of the process will be explored through the analysis of a particular performance: The Masque of the Red Death by Punchdrunk. In setting a wider context for Playgrounding a subsidiary case study of Teatro Oficina in Sao Paulo is included, highlighting the design process of Lina Bo Bardi and its influence on the work taking place at BAC. The final segment of the dissertation will look at the proposals Playgrounding makes to a traditional architectural process.

The dissertation is organised around the three significant periods of the Battersea Arts Centre’s architectural development: The period in which it functioned as a town hall from 1893 to 1965 and was then converted for use as a community arts centre from 1983 to 1995, the period from 1995 to 2004 in which the first major capital redevelopment was proposed to transform it into a theatre and finally the period in which Playgrounding emerged as a new approach to the architecture from 2004 to the present day. Each chapter will analyse how the artistic principles of the organisation were reflected in the use of the architecture.

Alistair Fair’s PhD study looked at the historical context of the relationship between drama and architecture and his concluding remarks demonstrate the sheer complexity of the theatre space:

The challenge for architects, therefore, is to provide buildings which can act not only as empty containers to be filled with actors, audiences and performances, but also dynamic thresholds which are both abstract and specific, linking the individual and the group, the intangible and the quantifiable, the wider truths of human nature and the fixed local situation, and the past and the present, all the time imposing inevitable limits on the present and future users whilst simultaneously enabling and empowering them by being inspiring yet functional places in which anything is possible.

It is little wonder that the architect might struggle to balance quite so many paradoxes in one design brief, particularly as most architects only work on a small number of performance spaces as part of a varied practice. This dissertation aims to draw conclusions that will be relevant for the practical design and delivery of performance spaces. Therefore, rather than singling out particular, often conflicting characteristics that architects should seek to deliver in a performance space, this study will attempt to define an approach that leads the architect and user together through a process of


exploration and discovery, towards a space that reflects their evolving vision and is responsive to the users of the space. Playgrounding is still in its infancy and continues to be tested. This is an account of its beginnings, basic characteristics and potential sphere of influence.


Chapter One Battersea Arts Centre in context 1893 – 1995

‘The Lost Years – the unappreciated, undocumented, awkward-seeming time when it was alive to evolution… those are the best years, the time when the building can engage us at our own level of complexity.’

Battersea Arts Centre [BAC] was originally Battersea Town Hall, built in 1893 by Edward W. Mountford. The building sits facing south on a one acre site on Lavender Hill, it’s size belied by the relatively low façade and the slope of the hill, hiding the depth of the building from view (fig.1). The structure is made of red brick and dressed in Monks Park Bath stone (fig.2). The roof is made of west Moreland slate. Mountford described the style as ‘essentially English Renaissance, though perhaps treated somewhat freely’ . The façade represents the tripartite structure that runs throughout the building: a central section with east and west wings. The ground floors has large lunette windows either side of a rounded portico supported on Corinthian columns (fig.3). This relatively simple linear composition provides the basic organisation of the spaces: three sections divided by two spine corridors running from front to back, each 8 ft wide which Mountford noted ‘are wide and well lighted’ .
6 5 4

The first designs show these corridors running the full length of the building (fig.4),

however it would seem that Mountford failed to take into account the considerable incline of Lavender Hill. In consequence the town hall is a building of two halves, with each corridor coming abruptly to a flight of stairs, before continuing to the back of the building (fig.5). The front half of the building formed the ‘business’ side of municipal life: the council chamber, the vestry offices and various departments of local government. The back half was dedicated to the ‘ceremonial’ side: the Grand Hall was built to provide a suitably majestic stage for municipal life. However unlike its more imposing predecessors,

Battersea Town Hall was built after the zenith of municipal display and the

horizon was accordingly modest in its outlook. The use of Grand Hall was to be ‘similar to Halls in

3 4

Brand, S., How Buildings Learn: What happens after they’re built, Phoenix Illustrated, London 1997, p.11 See Appendix 1 for a biography of Edward W. Mountford 5 Builder, November 25th, 1893, 393 6 Builder, November 25th, 1893, 393 7 A description of Liverpool Town Hall, designed by James Wyatt: ‘The reception rooms stretch the whole length of the building and are connected to the banqueting hall by a small ballroom on one side and a luncheon room on the other. This is an excellent arrangement for the circulation of large crowds of people. The Lord Mayor of Liverpool gives four receptions annually, each for 1,500 guests, and he frequently dines 250 people.’ Cotton, A.C., ‘Town Halls: the planning of modern buildings’, London, The Architectural Press, 1936, p.17


other parts of the Metropolis, for concerts, Bazaars, Debating Societies, University Extension Lectures and Recreative entertainments of a high class for the people.’

The interior of the whole building is treated relatively plainly, except for the profusion of marble and ornate mosaic floor at both the main entrance on Lavender Hill and the side entrance to the Grand Hall (figs. 6-9). Most rooms have high ceilings and plain windows, a simple cornice and wooden floors. The town hall was heated throughout by fireplaces and benefited from the natural light coming from a courtyard Mountford placed at the heart of the building. The courtyard was gradually encroached upon as successive local architects attempted to reconcile the front and back halves of the building, an oddity to which a satisfactory solution was never found (figs.10-13). The final characteristic of note is that the building remains to ‘unfinished’. The brief for the town hall stipulated that the architect should make ‘provision for an extension of the buildings at some future dates without injury to the lights or architectural effects.’ This was not uncommon and examples of extensions planned, or merely allowed for were standard features of town halls. Cotton, author of Town Halls: the planning of modern buildings, wrote that ‘the site itself must be large enough to contain the present accommodation and easily half as much again.’
10 9

A number of local councils

building their town hall before the 1860’s found they had outgrown their new premises before occupying them. Mountford built a large shell and left the west wing empty, for the unknown future needs of the organisation. Soon after the inauguration in 1893 the borough architect set to work on the first floor of the west wing, building a new staircase, landing and offices in 1899 (fig.14). However the council never expanded beyond the limits of Mountford’s original structure and to date the second floor of the west wing remains undeveloped. During the Second World War the Shakespeare Theatre, which stood next door to the town hall, was bombed. Only the façade remained and in 1957 it was completely demolished due to excessive bomb damage. Under the Emergency Powers Act of 1939 Local Governments were able to spend a portion of their budget on entertainment. This was replaced in 1948 with a Local Government Act


allowed for funding to continue supporting social and entertainment activities that had become extremely popular during the war. It was also during the 1940’s that the government launched tentatively into public funding for the arts, with the founding of CEMA , which sent musicians and entertainers into bomb shelters to lift the spirits of families who were suddenly left homeless. It was the combination of a loss of other local options for live entertainment and the increase in funding for local government to support these activities that led to the town hall employing an Entertainments


Anon., Programme of Inauguration, Battersea Municipal Buildings and Town Hall, 15.11.1893, Battersea History Library, Misc. File 725.13 BATT, 25 9 Anon., Programme of Inauguration: Battersea Municipal Buildings and Town Hall, 15.11.1893, Misc. File 725.13 BATT, Battersea History Library, p.14 10 Cotton, A.C., Town Halls: the planning of modern buildings, London, The Architectural Press, 1936, p.9 11 1948 Local Government Act gave councils limited power to support cultural activities. The 1948 Act imposed a maximum rate of 6p per pound to be spent on entertainment. 12 CEMA: Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts


Officer who, from 1948, put together seasons of dances, plays, lectures and talent contests. In the brochure for the year 1959/60 (fig.15) the chairman of the entertainment committee wrote that ‘*we+ are happy in the knowledge that for many residents in the borough a night at the Town Hall is an integral part of their social life.’

The building continued in its function as a town hall and a focal point of local social life until 1965, when the Greater London Council [GLC] was formed and Battersea Borough was dissolved to become part of Wandsworth Borough Council [WBC]. The council moved to new offices in a rented space near Wandsworth Town Hall. The front half of the building was left empty and quickly began to fall into a state of neglect, whilst the Grand Hall still held occasional tea dances and disco nights. Two years later, in 1967, WBC announced plans to have the old town hall demolished and an ‘ultramodern’ leisure centre built in its place, extending onto the site of the Shakespeare Theatre and including a swimming pool and library (fig. 16). Battersea locals immediately came to the defence of the old town hall, saying it was vital to the social life of the community and to the memory of old Battersea Borough. Alderman Sidney Sporle, then leader of WBC, clarified that the Grand Hall would remain intact and only the disused municipal offices at the front of the building would be demolished. In the context of 1967 Battersea, these plans were sensible. The façade must have presented a sorry picture of decrepitude: still showing marks of bomb damage from the blast that destroyed the Shakespeare Theatre, brickwork that not been cleaned since at least before the war (and there is no evidence of it having been done at all until the 1980’s) and now boarded up against vandals. It also looked out of place: whereas until the Second World War it had stood next to the equally large and even more opulent Shakespeare Theatre (fig.17), it was now marooned on Lavender Hill next to a bomb site. Victorian architecture had yet to become fashionable and to a council still struggling to house people and contend with rising population numbers, the old town hall was neither beautiful nor useful. Battersea locals believed WBC were keen to erase the memory of an independent Battersea , but it is unlikely this was one of the new council’s priorities. By demolishing the old council offices, they could fit a library and a swimming pool onto one site. This would release the Latchmere baths and the Battersea library for demolition (also an Edward W. Mountford building), freeing up land valued at £1.5 million for redevelopment into much needed social housing. Although WBC did not have the funding in place to build the new leisure centre, they had been informed by the GLC that when funding re-opened for development projects, councils that had designs drawn up and an empty site in place would find themselves at the front of the queue.

13 14

Bicker, H.G., Battersea Town Hall Entertainments Brochure 1959, Battersea History Library, MISC File 725.13 BATT, 9 ‘Consciously or sub-consciously the present council’s real motive is to remove the last remaining municipal reminder of the old borough of Battersea in order to stamp their own authority on the district.’, Eleventh-hour reprieve for Town Hall being sought, South Western Star, 14.7.1967


A local campaign was formed to save the building from demolition, which happened to coincide with the nascent movement for preservation of Victorian architecture,

attracting support from Pevsner.

These two movements, one working from the bedrock of local community voices, the other from the higher echelons of power, formed a stranglehold around WBC’s plans for demolition and in 1970 Battersea Town Hall, although not the most significant example of its kind, was listed Grade II*.

Once it was listed, there remained the problem of what to do with the space. A listing concerned itself only with the architecture, rather than the purpose of a building. Battersea Town Hall was not alone in this instance. Other empty town halls at the time included Shoreditch, Holborn, Hampstead, Bethnal Green, Tottenham and Hornsey. Some town halls have since been restored as community centres, hotels, commercial offices, serviced apartments or now house companies such as Birmingham’s Symphony orchestra or the Urdang Academy in Finsbury Town Hall. As the Battersea Town Hall had already become a focal point for social activity and live entertainment, a council run community arts centre was proposed. At this time there was a drive to put an arts centre in every town and unused buildings across the country, notably churches, were being converted for the purpose.

Not long after the building re-opened a writer for Time Out questioned the wisdom of

these conversions: We should be asking… why Arts Centres continue to be built or converted with no positive idea of what they are for or who will be using them… Wandsworth will launch its reconstituted Town Hall / Arts Centre – inevitably the usual problems will occur: lack of finance, lack of direction, confused thinking about why it didn’t work as any of them expected.’

As predicted, the new arts centre quickly ran into difficulties and with the election of a conservative council in 1979 the building was once again closed. A second local campaign was formed, the arts centre was transferred into an independent trust and for the first time an artistic director was employed to run the building. It re-opened in 1980 as ‘Battersea Arts Centre’ under the leadership of Jude Kelly, then just twenty six years old. Kelly focused her energies on re-establishing a relationship between the building and its community by engaging with the building’s heritage as a town hall. For Kelly this meant the pursuit of essentially Victorian principles of philanthropy, fairness and democratic and social purpose.
19 20

She prioritised making the building accessible and making work that involved Kelly had two studios installed on the ground floor, one for dance and one as

the local community.

a children’s cinema. She installed ramps into the building, a lift to the first floor and disabled dark
15 16

The Victorian Society was founded in 1958 See appendix 2 for the full listing 17 In an interview with Anthony Roberts, artistic director of Colchester Arts Centre, 13.07.2009 18 Anon., Nothing Too Arty, Time Out n.154, Feb 2-8 1974, p.16-17 19 Jude Kelly, Interview with the author, 9th July 2009 20 ‘Very, very local, community-based theatre that very local people could come to and feel it was theirs. The kind of audiences that came to it were very different from those that might come to a normal fringe theatre show.’ Kelly, J., Interview with the author, 9th July 2009


rooms on the ground floor. She also had the council chamber furniture removed and the space converted into the ‘main house’, a flexible space for workshops and theatre shows (fig.18-20) Her focus was breathing life back into a building which had once been a focal point for the community. She ran a local theatre company and organised free classes in pottery, silk screen painting and photography. Kelly moved on in 1985 to become the founder artistic director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse and is currently the artistic director of the South Bank centre. She has built a career out of ‘giving place meaning through the arts’ : ‘In an historical context your obligation is to pick up the ropes of the previous generation, where they have laid down ideas and struggled to change. Your obligation is to keep that going.’
22 21

Kelly believed that by aligning the intentions of the new arts centre with the original purpose of the building one could find a dynamic relationship between function and architecture. Discussing her work with Ronnie Mulryne, author of Making Space for Theatre, she described the importance of spaces that ‘already have a human history in the very bones of the building, a certain kind of authenticity… you want in such places to join the forward march of history’.

The community arts

centre stumbled on after Kelly left and it was only after a considerable period of upheaval and lack of direction (and financial uncertainty with the demise of the GLC) that the artistic directorship was taken on in 1990 by the producer Paul Blackman. By this time any sense of community around the building had almost entirely evaporated. Blackman ran Battersea Arts Centre for five years. It was during this time that Blackman dispensed of the building’s identity as a community arts centre because he decided that the concept had ‘had its day’.

The community arts centre was, in Kelly’s

vision, tied to the original social functions of the building. Blackman changed the name to ‘BAC’ and turned the organisation into a ‘Theatre’, doing away with the traces of a community centre along with the pottery wheels, disabled darkroom and children’s cinema. He started actively programming the three spaces (studio 1, studio 2 and the main house), rather than hiring them out to local companies, enacting ‘a policy of new writing, and visual / physical theatre with radical reinterpretations of the classics’.

By the time he left in 1995 the old town hall was on the map of

cutting edge London fringe venues and BAC’s own productions and co-productions accounted for over half the programme.

21 22

Jude Kelly, Interview with the author, 9th July 2009 Jude Kelly, Interview with the author, 9th July 2009 23 Jude Kelly, ‘The West Yorkshire Playhouse’, pp.74-79 in Ronnie Mulryne and Margaret Shewring (eds.), Making space for theatre, Stratford, Mulryne and Shewring, 1995 24 Paul Blackman, in interview with Cedric Porter, BAC – Streets ahead of the rest, South London Press, February 10th 1995, p.31 25 Paul Blackman, in interview with Cedric Porter, BAC – Streets ahead of the rest, South London Press, February 10th 1995, p.31


Chapter Two ‘The shock of the new’: Tom Morris and Levitt Bernstein Architects

Tom Morris, who was then primarily a journalist, took on the artistic directorship from Paul Blackman in 1995. Morris respected the work Blackman had done to raise BAC’s profile as an important venue for new work. He wanted to concentrate on making BAC a more prolific producing theatre. The shift in focus that had occurred in the programme since Blackman’s appointment and in Morris’ first year in the post meant that the function had become gradually specialized towards providing for the needs of theatre makers working in black box spaces with increasingly advanced technical equipment. This required an architectural response which was growing ever more urgent as the relationship between the activity and the spaces became progressively strained. In an early interview with the new artistic director a journalist asked Morris “What would you do with a million pounds?” He replied, “Build a beautiful garden in the middle of BAC.”

In 1996 Morris began making plans for the building’s first ever comprehensive redevelopment. He enlisted Axel Burrough from Levitt Bernstein Architects and plans were developed over the following year. The Levitt Bernstein Plans exhibit a daring and imaginative response to the building. Morris had two priorities: resolve the problem of circulation created by the division of the front and back halves of the building and reconcile the building’s new function as a theatre to its architecture. On being asked whether he found himself fighting the architecture, Morris responded ‘yes, always.’


the architect’s brief he described BAC’s occupation of the building as ‘squatting in a grand building that was designed to house municipal offices.’ of piracy’.
29 28

He also described BAC’s use of the building as ‘an act

Burrough held that it is ‘always an uphill struggle to cope with a building which isn’t

designed specifically for what you want to do… this was an opportunity to actually make the building which they had inherited more fit for purpose.’

He recalled the challenges Morris faced: ‘The

trouble was he had very little rooms, very inflexible. The doors were in the wrong place, the relationship to the dressing rooms… the height, everything made them not flexible but restrictive.”

Central to the Levitt Bernstein plans was a new ‘fit for purpose’ studio theatre space that ‘frees’ the original spaces of their adapted functions.

The new studio complex, known as the ‘central studio’ was inserted into the courtyard and surrounded by a permeable social area that encouraged interaction between the front and back
26 27

Tom Morris, Look Who’s Talking… , Putney News, 19th January 1996, p.10 Tom Morris, in an interview with the author, 4th June 2009 28 Axel Burrough, interview with the author, 8th June 2009 29 Davies, Bethan, associate architect with Levitt Bernstein Architects, project sketch and notes, c.1996, Battersea Arts Centre Archive 30 Tom Morris, notes for BAC Capital Development Project Phase1 Application, Battersea Arts Centre Archive p.2 31 Axel Burrough, interview with the author, 8th June 2009


halves of the building (fig.21). The new studio provided BAC with a high tech, purpose built space superceding the inflexible rooms which would no longer need to function as theatres. They would still be used but they would no longer have to masquerade as performance spaces: painted black, rigged and raked. Burrough describes an attempt to remove the friction from an otherwise overburdened relationship by ‘loosening up’

the spaces. By removing the demand on them, he

believed people would be able to use them more imaginatively: ‘you take the pressure off that room [council chamber] by providing something which is possibly more conventional but is actually built fit for purpose and to current standards somewhere else in the building.’

The plans were an extremely

practical response to a complicated relationship between function and architecture, described in the Lottery Funding application as ‘the central clash between the design of the building as a Town Hall and its developed use as a theatre.’

Morris had a particular approach to producing theatre that influenced both his choice of architect and the eventual design. The initial idea of placing a garden at the heart of the building is connected to his producing method. It was not just a garden he wanted, it was a ‘shockingly unexpected garden’

(fig.22). When seeing a piece of work for the first time, he would encourage BAC producers to search for the one thing in a production which might have a future. So although a show might be of poor quality, there may be interesting lighting, one excellent performer or beautiful music. Rather than seeing a piece of theatre as a finished whole, it was made up a separate elements, each of which might form the starting place for another, better piece. By asking BAC’s producers to always look for ‘the next thing’, he was seeking out the theatre artists of the future.

When he began working at

BAC as a development producer, David Jubb recalled that ‘The Shock of the New’ was a name that cropped up regularly as a potential title for seasons or festivals at BAC. Jubb believed that Morris was ‘interested in “surprise” as one of the most vital and inspirational qualities in theatre’.

When asked

what he enjoyed most about being artistic director Morris said, “I love being able to introduce people to the things they least expect.”

Morris applied a theatrical taste for the unexpected to his ideas for

the building and the shockingly unexpected garden developed into a metal-clad, cone-shaped tower twice the height of the original building nestled into the courtyard (fig.23).

These tendencies would also show in his choice of architect.

The most significant theatrical

experience Levitt Bernstein brought to the project was their work at the Manchester Royal Exchange, first in 1976 and again in 1996 after the nearby IRA bombing. Michael Elliot, the artistic director of
32 33

Axel Burrough, interview with the author, 8th June 2009 Axel Burrough, interview with the author, 8th June 2009 34 Tom Morris, notes for BAC Capital Development Project Phase1 Application, Battersea Arts Centre Archivep,.4 35 Tom Morris, in an interview with the author, 4th June 2009 36 Tom Morris, in an interview with the author, 4th June 2009 37 David Jubb, in and email to the author, Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009 38 In response to the question ‘What do you like about your job?’ Tom Morris, Look Who’s Talking… , Putney News, 19th January 1996, p.10


the Manchester Royal Exchange, said ‘Here there really might be a theatre, because it isn’t one. It had none of the old assumptions, it was just a space.’

Morris would have been very conscious of this

legacy in his decision to work with them. The Manchester Royal Exchange is ‘a great, inflexible old trading hall’

with a pod-like theatre space suspended under the central dome. Working with

Michael Elliot, Levitt Bernstein designed:

a building within it which was a bit like an act of piracy. It was taking over the space, which was almost an unwilling host… but it could take it because it was so big. So there was a tremendous tension between the new space within this huge great hall and the old space. And that was part of the excitement – the tension.

Three years prior to building the theatre at Manchester Royal Exchange, Michael Elliott recorded a programme for the BBC, of which one episode was entitled ‘On Not Building For Posterity.’ Standing on Waterloo Bridge, reflecting on his recent experience advising on the National Theatre’s building committee, he questioned whether this was the kind of theatre we should be building and whether we should be bequeathing quite so much concrete to the next generation of theatre makers: ‘Isn’t it time we stopped lumbering our grandchildren with our mistakes?’

Elliott suggested that ‘In the

future shouldn’t we try to retain a certain lightness and sense of improvisation, and sometimes build in materials that do not require a bomb to move them? In short, shouldn’t we stop building for posterity?’

The Manchester Royal Exchange conversion sprang from this thought process. There were obvious ties between the two spaces and the vocabulary reflected them: the new studio would both solve Morris’ artistic challenges and give solid form to the act of ‘piracy’ BAC was already performing in the old town hall. Vocabulary can however be deceiving, and although the words ‘piracy’ and ‘squatting’ give the impression of impermanence, neither the Manchester Royal Exchange theatre nor the BAC studio were designed to be temporary. Burrough said that the theatre they built in Manchester ‘looked as if it could be taken away at any day, it was camping in effect.’

It may have looked like it

was camping in the space, but it would have taken more than a day to remove and although it was not built of bricks and concrete, it was also not designed to be flat packed. The design for BAC went a step further. It picked up the idea of tension between new and old with a shocking, alien architectural addition, but did not pursue even the illusion of impermanence. Burrough felt that by building a

Elliot, M., ‘On not building for posterity, TABS 31/2 (1973): 41-44, republished by Mulryne, R. and Shewring, M. (eds.), Making space for theatre: British Architecture and theatre since 1958, Stratford-upon-Avon,1995, p.18 40 Axel Burrough, interview with the author, 8th June 2009 41 Axel Burrough, interview with the author, 8th June 2009 42 Elliot, M., ‘On not building for posterity, TABS 31/2 (1973): 41-44, republished by Mulryne, R. and Shewring, M. (eds.), Making space for theatre: British Architecture and theatre since 1958, Stratford-upon-Avon,1995, p.17 43 Elliot, M., ‘On not building for posterity, TABS 31/2 (1973): 41-44, republished by Mulryne, R. and Shewring, M. (eds.), Making space for theatre: British Architecture and theatre since 1958, Stratford-upon-Avon,1995, p.17 44 Axel Burrough, interview with the author, 8th June 2009


permanent structure to accommodate the needs of the organisation, the use of the original spaces could take on the more light-footed, transitory quality which Elliot had sought: ‘We were trying to pursue this idea of people being able to camp in spaces in the building, but that depended on having somewhere in the building that was well-equipped for more conventional things.’

This is in effect a

subversion of Elliot’s original idea, which was to build a theatre that was temporary – not build a permanent theatre so that everywhere else could be used as a found space, which does little to alter the standard relationship between architecture and theatre. ‘Normal’ theatre taking place in a specifically designed, fit-for-purpose, high-tech space and ‘site specific’ theatre, workshops and rehearsals taking place elsewhere.

The plans were extremely ambitious, architecturally and ideologically. One sketch notes that Morris’ key notes have ‘terrifying aspirations’, but questions whether notions of ‘ambush / iconoclasm / piracy’

might fail to embrace the more uncertain theatre goers. The conical central studio complex

stacked rehearsal rooms and a double-height studio theatre on top of each other, with a curving external staircase rising from the courtyard (fig.24). The new theatre would be ‘properly equipped, *with+ people facing the right way in comfortable seats’
47 48

and it would ‘do things better’

than the

existing spaces (fig.25). Other aspects of the design included the glass roofed café area in the courtyard around the central studio (fig.26), a perforated façade on Lavender Hill giving onto an espresso bar, a new configuration of the council chamber and a retractable rake in the Grand Hall. Studios 1 and 2 would be overhauled with new technical equipment, seating and backstage spaces. Overall BAC would have five functioning theatre spaces. When speaking about the plans today, both Morris and Burrough insist on the importance of the Lottery Funding in their development:

1994 Lottery Act, so between 1995 and about 1998 or 1999 there was a very, incredibly small period in history which was the heyday of Arts Council Lottery Funding when they were able to fund ambitious projects. This was an opportunity that had never occurred before and has never occurred again… you have to think about the whole thought process in those terms.

Observing how the plans grew in scope over the course of a year, it is possible to imagine a young organisation, making significant and exciting work, having their ambitions fuelled by the Arts Council capital strategy, encouraging them to apply for large sums of money. Burrough acknowledged that ‘the ambitions of the schemes were sort of a response to the ambitions of the people providing

45 46

Axel Burrough, interview with the author, 8th June 2009 Davies, Bethan, associate architect with Levitt Bernstein Architects, sketch and notes, c.1996, Battersea Arts Centre archive 47 Axel Burrough, interview with the author, 8th June 2009 48 Axel Burrough, interview with the author, 8th June 2009 49 Axel Burrough, interview with the author, 8th June 2009


lottery money.’ our ambitions.’


The extent to which that figure grew determined ‘the extent to which we increased


However in 1997 the plans for redevelopment were cut short by two events which occurred almost simultaneously: both BAC and the Lottery Fund discovered they had run out of money. BAC had

submitted an application for funding which should have lead to a £12 million Capital Grant, the sum they had been encouraged to apply for. The Arts Council returned the application and suggested they submit another for around £2 million.

The Arts Council had begun to realise that the projects they

had previously committed to were running over budget and that many of the organisations had failed to account for revenue funding to get their venues up and running again once the works were finished. The door for new projects shut very suddenly. It was a huge blow to a design team who had been told, as were so many at the time, that anything was possible. Along with this came the sudden realisation that BAC’s deficit was far larger than Morris had been made aware of, which was shortly followed by the departure of the Head of Finance. Morris chose, in the circumstances, to let his hopes for a Capital project go and focus his energies on organisational development. BAC was taken onto the Arts Council’s Recovery Programme, a fund created to keep failing organisations afloat. Morris restructured the senior management team, employed a fresh team of producers and set about closing the gap on BAC’s deficit.

50 51

Axel Burrough, interview with the author, 8th June 2009 Axel Burrough, interview with the author, 8th June 2009 52 Tom Morris, interview with the author, 4th June 2009


2.2: The beginning of ‘scratch’

Throughout his tenure as artistic director Morris maintained a focus on developing new work and supporting new artists. Work-in-progress sharings were already taking place in the mid-nineties at BAC and other venues across London such as Oval House, the Lion and Unicorn Pub Theatre, the Drill Hall and ICA gallery. But there were few ongoing development opportunities supporting artists to create work over a prolonged period of time. The Lion and Unicorn Pub Theatre was being run by Central School of Speech and Drama, led by the recent graduate David Jubb. At the Lion and Unicron artists could present work-in-progress for three nights in each two-month season and some of that work would go on to have a three-week run. Jubb was consciously trying to create a structure that would develop artists’ work over time, through live presentations.

The body of small to medium-sized companies, collectives and solo artists performing across fringe venues in London at the time were making work that largely focused on the live presence of the theatrical exchange: ‘it was theatre that focussed on the event-hood and fleshiness of performance, emphasising the visceral presence of the performer before a ‘live’ audience…’

Despite the

radicalism of this theatre turning on an exploration of ‘the unique situation that occurs during performance itself. The presence of the performer’s body and the subjectivity witnessed in the ‘here and now’ by the audience-spectator’

there was still no direct invitation to the audience to feedback

or a framework that engaged artist and audience in a structured creative dialogue. BAC’s work-inprogress sharings at that time consisted of artists presenting unfinished pieces of half an hour to forty five minutes for three nights. These new work nights would be interspersed throughout each season, but again it lacked any follow-up support structure or feedback system. Jubb then programmed the ‘Lion and Unicorn Night of Glee’ at BAC as part of the British Festival of Visual Theatre in 1999. This was a night of ‘seemingly endless cabaret theatre’

during which a dozen artists tried out new ideas

in front of an audience. This sparked a debate at BAC about the value of presenting work-in-progress in front of a live audience. As Morris had already been thinking about how best to support artists developing new work, BAC’s programme was ‘ripe for a structured model.’ In August 1999 Morris employed Jubb as development producer - a producer specifically tasked with seeking out and developing new artistic talent. That autumn a brainstorming meeting was held with BAC artists to discuss the possible format for regular work-in-progress nights. The artists felt that they needed a step before the half hour, three night run. That first step would allow a number of artists to share an evening slot, each presenting just ten minutes of a new idea. Both Jubb and Morris recall the artist Kazuko Hohki coining the name ‘scratch’, as an appropriate term for the ‘starting place for ideas’.

53 54

Jones, S., New Theatres for new times, Cambridge History of British Theatre vol.3, Cambridge 2004, p.458 Jones, S., New Theatres for new times, Cambridge History of British Theatre vol.3, Cambridge 2004, p.460 55 David Jubb (davidj@bac.org.uk), in and email to the author (amg52@cam.ac.uk), Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009 56 David Jubb (davidj@bac.org.uk), in and email to the author (amg52@cam.ac.uk), Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009


The first official ‘scratch night’ took place in January 2000 as part of a season of work called ‘The Shape of Things to Come’.

Later in 2000 Morris and Jubb rationalised the scratch process into the ‘scratch ladder of development’, a linear progression for work to follow (fig.27). The first rung on the ladder was ‘freshly scratched’, an evening of ten minute slots shared by artists, each at the very beginning of a new project. The next step was the work-in-progress: forty-five minutes to an hour run over three nights. This went on to a full-length show run for a week and finally, if the show has done particularly well, a full three-week run. The unspoken understanding was that artists would progress from a full length show at BAC to work at a central London theatre, such as Lyric Hammersmith, and from there to making work at the National Theatre. This structure enabled a group of less traditional companies to find a place on the mainstream stage, such Théatre de Complicité, DV8 physical theatre, Cheek by Jowl and Kneehigh. At each stage of development the artist is open to feedback from the audience and their producer.

The scratch process is based on three principles:


Improvisation: making it up as you go along. Artists have to be able to change their minds. The opportunity to make mistakes is crucial to the creative process.


Collaboration: placing the work of an artist at the centre of a network of collaborative relationships that support the work. The artist being open to feedback and responding to it in their work is vital. It keeps it alive.


Time: It takes time to make good work.

The principles of the scratch process now define the ethos of BAC and the flavour of the work it produces. The model created by Morris, Jubb and the artists working at BAC has been replicated across London and beyond.

Jubb arrived at BAC after Levitt Bernstein’s Capital redevelopment plans had dissolved and he recalls that space was ‘very rarely discussed in programming meetings’.

As during Paul Blackman’s time,

work was programmed into the three main studio spaces: the Main House, Studio 1 and Studio 2. All essentially black box spaces. Jubb used Studio 2 for the more experimental work he was bringing into the building as Development Producer. Studio 1 housed the more traditional plays and studio theatre productions. The Main House was used for the larger shows that Morris programmed, or the more successful work that had grown up through the scratch ladder of development. A piece of work that

In London: Scratch Interact at Southwark Playhouse, Lyric Firsts at Lyric Theatre Hammersmith, Rough Cuts at Royal Court, Scratch Performances at National Theatre Theatre and Short Nights by Nabakov Theatre. Beyond London: Scratch Nights at Nightingale Theatre in Brighton, Scratch Nights at Arches in Glasgow, Scratch Nights Theater for the New City in New York and Scratch Nights at Sydney Opera House, Australia. 58 David Jubb (davidj@bac.org.uk), in and email to the author (amg52@cam.ac.uk), Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009


did very well during scratch would run for three weeks in a studio, before transferring to the main house for two or three nights. During Morris’ time there was a tension between ‘the conscious drive for experimental new theatre practice… and the more formal experiments in traditional form which felt as though they were a comfortable part of theatre orthodoxy.’ clear hierarchy’.
60 59

Jubb recalls ‘There was a very

Other parts of the building were used occasionally, such as the foyer, the attic or

the gallery, but ‘the focus of the production team’s efforts was on servicing the three theatre spaces and ensuring they ran smoothly.’

It is possible to surmise that once Morris’ plans to convert the

space were aborted, he became less and less interested in the building, as ill-matched newly-weds might, having once discovered they cannot change each other. His relationship with the space was inextricably linked to his inability to change it, as well as its relationship with the council – which was increasingly strained. They still managed the building and both the funding and the length of the lease were ever-diminishing.

Jubb left BAC after just over a year as development producer, but when Morris decided to move on to become associate director at the National Theatre in 2004, Jubb returned to take over the artistic directorship. When Jubb applied for the job he asked Morris to help him think about whether he was right for the role. He remembers that one of the pieces of advice Morris gave him was about the building. He suggested that Jubb should consider the organisation’s relationship to the building and should question whether or not BAC should be based in the town hall: ‘I thought the reason he asked that question spoke volumes about his relationship with the space. I think if he’d have stayed on at BAC he would have looked for a different home for the organisation.’

It was not the case

throughout Morris’ tenure, but in the end Jubb wrote ‘I don’t think Tom loved the building.’

59 60

David Jubb (davidj@bac.org.uk), in and email to the author (amg52@cam.ac.uk), Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009 David Jubb (davidj@bac.org.uk), in and email to the author (amg52@cam.ac.uk), Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009 61 David Jubb (davidj@bac.org.uk), in and email to the author (amg52@cam.ac.uk), Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009 62 David Jubb (davidj@bac.org.uk), in and email to the author (amg52@cam.ac.uk), Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009 63 David Jubb (davidj@bac.org.uk), in and email to the author (amg52@cam.ac.uk), Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009


Chapter Three ‘Playgrounding’: David Jubb and Haworth Tompkins Architects

Jubb returned to BAC in 2004 and it was a year later that the programme and the approach to the space began to differentiate itself from that of Morris. The first visible shift came with ‘Octoberfest’, the autumn festival in 2005. The season brochure opened with Jubb standing on the street outside BAC asking passers-by what they thought of when he said the word ‘theatre’. Answers ranged from ‘Lots of people sleeping at the same time’ and ‘Shakespeare’, to

‘theatre?…(laugh)…theatre?…(laugh)… I’ve never been mate…’ (walks off laughing)’. It started to rain. At this juncture, Jubb asked himself the question ‘Is theatre any good?’, which became the title of the season (fig.28):

I stood in the street and started to think about terrible theatre. Boring, deadly theatre. Theatre that assumes its audience have a PhD. Clever people writing clever plays to be reviewed by more clever people… Theatre that demands its audience should appreciate it, not the other way round. No, I thought, theatre isn’t any good. It’s odious.

After wondering why he became the artistic director of a theatre, given his views on the art form, he remembered a show he saw in 1999 called YES YES YES by the Northern Irish theatre company Ridiculismus:

‘This was theatre… YES YES YES was outrageous… it made me think about travel, friendships, madness, failure. YES YES YES made me realise that theatre is two-way. It is as much about us, the audience, as the people making it.’

Where other aspects of their taste and approach differed, Morris and Jubb found common ground in their fascination with the two-way relationship between audience and artists. Morris, currently writing a book entitled ‘Unfinished Business’, is interested in how theatre leaves room for the audience’s imagination to journey towards the story, rather than offering the complete picture that one finds in the cinema. Jubb trained his efforts towards supporting artists and companies who prioritised the live, collaborative relationship between artist and audience.

Octoberfest in 2005

64 65

David Jubb, ‘Is Theatre Any Good?’, BAC Season Brochure, October 2005, BAC Archive, p.1 David Jubb, ‘Is Theatre Any Good?’, BAC Season Brochure, October 2005, BAC Archive, p.1 66 “What brought us together, as two people passionate about making theatre, apart from a friendship, was the relationship between artist and audience. The brochure of the British Festival of Visual Theatre 2000 shows the face of Mike Shepherd on one side and Benji Reid on the other, close up, looking in to your eyes as you stare back. The potential of that look between artists and audience was what mutually excited us both: to create that festival, and others like it, together, as works of passion.” David Jubb, in and email to the author, Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009


featured the work of Ridiculismus and a series of scratch performances, building on the experimental work that Jubb had been in charge of programming during his time as Development Producer.

The distinctive shift came in the approach to the building. Included in the Octoberfest programme were two parties: Blink, and Trashy Multi-Art Form Bingo Blow-out Party (fig.29). These were two multi-disciplinary nights in which a series of short pieces of work were presented across the building in spaces not usually used for theatre, in the context of a party. An audience member bought one ticket to the whole night, which allowed them to choose what work they wanted to see and in what order. Jubb became interested not just in the use of otherwise latent spaces and the rough and ready nature of the work, but in the audience’s journey from one piece to the next. This engendered ‘a sense of adventure and investment from the audience’.

The events and performances that took

place during the Octoberfest ‘Is theatre any good?’ season were the first steps towards exploring the potential of the building to house events that engaged with multiple spaces and allowed the audience to make choices about their own journey through the space.

Felix Barrett, the artistic director of Punchdrunk, presented his first piece of work in the building as part of Blink. The Yellow Wallpaper took place in one of the attic rooms and was so popular that the producing team decided to run it for the rest of the festival. It was also at this time that Jubb read through the archive of past board papers and came to the conclusion that the building itself was more than an unwilling architectural host for the theatre. He realised that BAC’s artists had not only created innovative work because of the supportive scratch process but that they had in many cases drawn inspiration from the fact that they were working in a space that was not a theatre. ‘BAC’s success was, in part, because of the town hall rather than despite the town hall.’

Where past

administrations had tended to consider BAC the organisation independently from the town hall, particularly without the guarantee of a long lease on the building, Jubb decided to set about reconciling the organisation to its architecture and the architecture to the organisation.

In May 2006 Barrett and Punchdrunk returned with The Quest of a Wave to BAC’s spring festival, BURST. Inspired by the experiences of Blink and Trashy Multi-Art-form Bingo Blow Out Jubb began talking to Barrett about the idea of creating a show within an arts centre and an arts centre that could live inside a show, which would mean opening up BAC to create a building-wide performance environment.

Barrett’s work is intimately engaged with architecture and the audience’s journey.

Given their experience in site-responsive work, Punchdrunk were seen as the ideal collaborators. The company was founded in 2000 as ‘Punchdrunk theatrical experiences’ with the aim of creating theatrical environments in which ‘the audience are free to choose what they watch and where they
67 68

David Jubb (davidj@bac.org.uk), in and email to the author (amg52@cam.ac.uk), Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009 David Jubb, in and email to the author, Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009 69 ‘It was around Burst *May+ 2006 that we started having conversations about a show inside an arts centre and an arts centre living inside a show and what that might look like.’ *93+


go,’ fusing performance, music and installation art into an immersive experience. A team of designers take over a space and, employing a filmic level of detail, transform it into a world that the audience can explore, encouraging them to ‘rediscover the excitement and childlike anticipation of exploring the unknown.’

Punchdrunk had previously created Prospero’s island in a distillery in Deptford, a

Hitchcock version of Macbeth in an old Victorian school, Romeo and Juliet in Offley Works, a disused factory in London and Faust, in collaboration with the National Theatre, in a disused archive building in Wapping. Jubb and Barrett set out the parameters of a building-wide show at Battersea Arts Centre and in June 2006 the resulting ideas of opening up unexploited areas of the building for artist use were presented to BAC’s board. Jubb had also begun to think about how a building-wide production might relate to his desire to reconcile BAC to its architecture and deal with some of the immediate challenges of the building. At this time the term used to describe the concept was a ‘theatrical village’:

A single theatre production will occupy the entire BAC village at one time…each production will employ an overall conceptual framework or story which will encompass the village… As part of these productions we will create a long-term vision for the future of this building. We want an architect to become associated with the productions. We will develop our vision for the building in collaboration with this architect and our artists and audiences. In 2010 as the final production closes we will deliver a capital project that will skilfully and modestly redevelop our environment, judiciously investing in the discoveries of the village projects… In this way BAC will act as a pioneer for how arts buildings are thought about in the future.

Nick Starr, Chief Executive of the National Theatre, was then Chair of BAC’s board. He stayed behind after the board meeting and suggested a meeting with Steve Tompkins. Starr had worked with Tompkins on the temporary Gainsborough Studios for the Almeida Theatre and the National Theatre Studio. Tompkins described their relationship as very ‘light footed, very trusting, straightforward, very informal, cutting through a lot of red tape, cutting through a lot of… accepted procedure to get things done. Mainly because they were such quick projects… they weren’t like architecture projects, they were much more like set builds, right from the outset you’re working within a different set of expectations, different timescales.’

Starr pursued an instinct that Tompkins would be inspired by

the process Jubb was proposing and that it would be ‘a personality match as much as a good fit of idea and ambition’.

Haworth Tompkins is a practice well versed in delivering buildings for the arts. Tompkins’ first theatre work was the restoration of the Royal Court in Sloane Square in 1999, shortly followed by his work
70 71

All Punchdrunk quotes taken from http://www.punchdrunk.org.uk/about.htm, accessed on 28.05.2009 BAC Board Papers 2.10.2006, BAC Archive 72 Steve Tompkins, interviewed at his home in Hampstead, 19th June 2009 73 David Jubb (davidj@bac.org.uk), in and email to the author (amg52@cam.ac.uk), Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009


with Nick Starr for the Almeida at the Gainsborough Studios. In the same year he rebuilt the Regents Park Theatre. Tompkins built The Egg and The Ustinov, a space for young people and a studio theatre for the Theatre Royal in Bath. In 2006 he built the North Wall, a theatre for a school in Oxford and rebuilt the Young Vic Theatre, followed by a move a few hundred yards down The Cut to deliver the National Theatre Studio. Most recently Haworth Tompkins have completed a creative campus for Aldeburgh Music and, alongside Battersea Arts Centre, the practice are working on the Liverpool Everyman, Liverpool Playhouse and the National Theatre redevelopment plans. The practice also work on social housing, galleries, libraries and urban regeneration schemes but Tompkins is perhaps the closest thing this generation of architects gets to a modern Matcham. The practice’s work is difficult to pin down in terms of style, perhaps because a large body of their work comprises of rebuilding, refurbishing, redeveloping or temporary work. They say that they are ‘primarily influenced by the specific chemistry of individual places and cultural situations’

and that what each building

shares in common is the approach, rather than a signature style. This emphasis on process in their practice would favour the relationship with BAC.

Jubb recalls a meeting held in the courtyard of BAC in the summer of 2006, not long after their initial introduction. He described to Tompkins the idea of a show living inside an arts centre and a capital project that ‘invests in the discoveries’ of the show. At one point he realised he was making it sound more developed as an idea, and more certain, than it actually was. He stopped to confess that he was actually making this up as he went along and Tompkins responded ‘ah, a man after my own heart.’

Jubb felt Tompkins would be the right architect for BAC as ‘He was someone I didn’t have to pretend with; it’s a ridiculously rare thing for brilliant people like Steve to show vulnerability, to show that they’re out on a limb, that they’re sometimes not sure what the next move is.’

Jubb felt

collaboration was possible with someone if they were prepared to admit they did not know how or where it might end – a collaboration that involved risk.

After these initial conversations about the building, Jubb and Tompkins decided to write letters to each other, to see if their thoughts were consistent.

It is from these letters that an early definition

of Playgrounding emerged. The term ‘Playgrounding’ comes from the idea of a children’s playground: children use a playground not just for what it is, but as an opening into many different worlds. A playground has both structured elements and undefined areas for children to run around in, a balance between equipment and free space. ‘The idea of Playgrounding is simply about artists, staff and audiences doing what we all used to do in our playgrounds, creating flexible worlds in which anything could happen.’
74 75


The significance of BAC as a found space in this concept is important, as

http://www.haworthtompkins.com David Jubb (davidj@bac.org.uk), in and email to the author (amg52@cam.ac.uk), Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009 76 David Jubb (davidj@bac.org.uk), in and email to the author (amg52@cam.ac.uk), Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009 77 See appendix 4 for copies of the letters 78 David Jubb (davidj@bac.org.uk), in and email to the author (amg52@cam.ac.uk), Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009


Jubb points out that often the very best games are those played in the areas of the playground that have not been especially equipped or designed – ‘the parts of the playground where we could create our own worlds.’

The letters written by Tompkins and Jubb were presented to the BAC board in October 2006 and funds for further conversations with Haworth Tompkins to explore Playgrounding were approved. The conversation with Tompkins about opening up the building and improving the facilities for artist use was running parallel to discussions with Barrett about a building-wide production. It had been decided that the Punchdrunk production would create a building-wide performance piece based on the stories of Edgar Allen Poe, using The Masque of the Red Death as the overall framing device. There was a natural confluence between this project and the wider plans for developing the building, so Jubb introduced Barrett and Tompkins in Autumn 2006. When Jubb wrote to Barrett outlining the parameters of The Masque of the Red Death, he spoke about Tompkins’ potential collaboration on the project:

‘As you know BAC is hoping Steve *Tompkins+ will be involved in the redevelopment of BAC’s building over the next three years… We believe that discoveries we make during the building-wide project will feed directly into plans for a modest redevelopment in 2011. Steve is even up for helping us try some ‘temporary’ ideas out via each building wide project, so one or two ideas could figure as part of project Poe.’

Barrett agreed to a collaboration and he, Jubb and Tompkins met in the autumn to walk around the building and discuss the potential overlap. As the production was beginning to take shape however, BAC encountered an unforeseen setback that would profoundly affect their relationship with the building and the future of the capital plans with Haworth Tompkins.

On the 10th of January 2007 BAC received a letter from Wandsworth Borough Council [WBC] announcing that, as part of a £5 million cost cutting exercise across the borough, they would be cutting BAC’s funding from £100,000 to zero and ending BAC’s subsidised rent of the building. Rent charges would be put in place for the town hall totalling circa £270,000 per year, with a net impact of £370,000 on BAC’s budget, coming into force as of April 2007. Since the late 1990’s BAC had been on an increasingly short tenancy agreement with the council. By 2007 it was a six month lease. The work of the arts centre was seen to have outgrown its local origins as a community arts centre and

79 80

David Jubb (davidj@bac.org.uk), in and email to the author (amg52@cam.ac.uk), Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009 David Jubb (davidj@bac.org.uk), in an email to Felix Barrett (felix@punchdrunk.org.uk) Rock on, 24 October 2006


WBC argued that it was a national organisation and should therefore be nationally funded – it should not fall to them to subsidise an organisation providing services to people across London.

Had the council’s cuts been implemented, it would have forced BAC to close its doors. In forming a plan of action, Jubb recalled Morris’s parting thoughts about whether BAC should be based in the town hall or not. The withdrawal of the council’s support could have been the right moment to start looking for a new home for the organisation. Instead, the challenge served to clarify in Jubb’s mind the importance and uniqueness of the building and its history. Not only was it a town hall rather than a theatre, but it had also developed a twenty-five-year artistic heritage of companies who had created and performed their earliest work in the studios. The idea of leaving the building solidified the lessons learnt through the Octoberfest programme in 2005 and the conversations with Barrett and Tompkins in 2006: the town hall space was one of the key reasons for the organisation’s artistic success in the last twenty five years. The loss incurred by a move to another space was

unquantifiable. A campaign was formed to save BAC: the third in its history.

Throughout the

campaign the focus in the wider theatrical community was on BAC’s contribution to British theatre as an incubator for the next generation of artists. Nicholas Hytner, artistic director of the National Theatre, put the case for BAC succinctly by stating that its closure would be ‘a crushing blow…BAC has in recent years provided a whole generation of theatre makers without whom more established venues like the National would quickly atrophy.’

The theatre community, predictably, poured wrath

on Wandsworth Borough Council. Tom Morris allowed years of frustration with the council to surface in an article in The Observer: ‘Wandsworth Borough Council has s**t on BAC again… Wandsworth councillors are Philistine backwoodsmen who are prepared to sacrifice a cultural pearl on their own doorstep for the sake of having the lowest council tax in the country.’

Despite Wandsworth’s valid

argument that because BAC had become a national institution, attracting audiences from across London and beyond, it was no longer appropriate for it to receive local authority funding, they were lambasted in the national press for going ‘back to the old Tory basics of arts cuts’.

In general terms

the press and theatre community blamed philistinism and political gamesmanship for Wandsworth’s cutting spree. The council relayed the blame onto a shortfall in their settlement from the Labour government, forcing them to make difficult choices about borough services. This was seen as ‘a case of don’t blame us, blame Gordon Brown.’

The story put a dent in the artistic community’s belief in

the Cameron-era Conservatism. The wide attention given to BAC’s situation forced the council to delay their initial cuts, but it did little to foster a positive relationship between BAC and WBC. WBC offered to reinstate £85,000 of BAC’s £100,000 annual grant, but made no moves to rescind the rent

In a twist of irony, three months earlier WBC had awarded BAC ‘Best Community Contribution’ at the Wandsworth Council Business Awards. 82 See appendix 3 for detailed timeline 83 Hytner, N., Backing BAC, Time Out London, January 31 – February 6 2007, p.144 84 Morris, T., The spirit of Tebbit walks the stage in Battersea, The Observer Review, Arts Column, 21.01.2007 85 Blacken, T., Back to the old Tory basics of arts cuts, The Independent, 24.1.2007, p.30 86 Cavendish, D., First person singular: Why should the Tories bother with the arts?, The Daily Telegraph, 17.02.2007, p.12


and running cost bill of £270,000. It was Nick Starr who brought BAC and WBC to a negotiating point and made WBC realise that without a subsidised rent agreement, the old town hall would close. Whilst the theatre community was fretting over the closure of a ‘cultural powerhouse’, WBC were realising that they would once again have an empty building on their hands towards which, as a listed asset, they would have a duty of care. It was never the WBC’s intention for BAC to close – it was simply a poorly timed suggestion that they find their funding elsewhere. The line between what constitutes a local organisation, serving the needs of local people and what is a national institution is a fine one and not to be defined here. WBC prioritised other services and assumed that arts funding should come from a centrally allocated source, however under very public scrutiny they found it necessary renegotiate.

BAC proposed to take the venue into a Building Preservation Trust which would hold a long lease on the centre and take on liability for the site. This was similar to the action taken in 1980, when the council-run arts centre briefly closed until it was taken into an independent trust. WBC agreed to a 125-year lease on the building, with the first 20 years rent-free. In exchange BAC took responsibility for the building’s upkeep and undertook to carry out repair work totalling £2.5 million within the first decade. Council leader Edward Lister stated ‘This will be an excellent outcome for the borough, the building will be looked after, the council tax-payer will be protected and the venue will have the chance to flourish.’

The 125-year lease also had a positive repercussion on the redevelopment

plans. Although BAC shouldered £250,000 of repairs per year for the next ten years, on top of regular upkeep and organisational costs, the security of the lease significantly increased the potential for raising the funds for comprehensive redevelopment. The Arts Council’s requirement of a minimum 20-year lease to release Capital funding, mirrored by other major funding bodies, could be met for the first time. Apart from the practical implications of the lease, it also fundamentally altered BAC’s relationship to the building. Suddenly, for the first time since it opened in 1974, the organisation owned the building. When something went wrong with the building, it was no longer a case of phoning the landlord. BAC had responsibility for its care and control over its future. Conservation bodies aside, the future of the town hall was, for the first time, in BAC’s hands.

During the campaign to save the building, BAC was also thrust into the national media at an unprecedented level, which all three parties exploited as free advertising for the Punchdrunk project. This meant that they balanced the message of the potential loss of the building with a positive one about the future of the organisation, underlining in particular BAC’s role as a development organisation pushing the boundaries of the sector. Because the focus of the debate was on the building itself, towards the end of the ‘Wandsworth crisis’, many of the announcements about the 125-year lease with WBC were accompanied by news of the collaboration with Punchdrunk and


Lister, E., Battersea Arts Centre’s future safe with 125-year lease deal, Wandsworth Borough News, 24.10.2007, p.3


Haworth Tompkins

88 89

/ . This meant that the theatre sector was made aware of the architectural

collaboration underlying the Punchdrunk project in way that would otherwise have been difficult to publicize. When speaking about the ‘Wandsworth crisis’, Jubb reflected on how positive it was for the Punchdrunk project: BAC’s board allowed the production costs of the show to escalate from a predicted £200,000 to £460,000 ‘because it was do or die.’ ambitions of the project.

The crisis raised the artistic and financial


‘…a deal which will see Wandsworth giving BAC annual funding of £85,000 for the next two years and a transference of the Grade II* listed building to an independent theatre preservation trust... Not only that, but the brilliant Punchdrunk is following up the success of Faust with a new piece for BAC – the Masque of the Red Death.’ Lyn Gardner, Guardian Blog, March 2007 89 ‘BAC’s scheme involves a partnership between Royal Court architect Steve Tompkins and Punchdrunk theatre company to open up the building for mobile performances. The first will be a co-production of the Masque of the Red Death … in the autumn and a “re-imagining” of the spaces in the old town hall.’ BAC saved by lease plan, Arts Industry, 5.4.2007, p.4 90 David Jubb, in an interview with the author, 23rd February 2009


3.1: Playgrounding and scratch in The Masque of the Red Death

The Masque of the Red Death was the first practical investigation of Playgrounding. Over the seven months of the project Playgrounding developed the three key process principles of scratch into an approach to the building: improvisation, collaboration and taking time. In the course of transposing the principles of scratch into an architectural investigation, two organisation specific values emerged: taking inspiration from ‘things that don’t belong’ (making theatre in a town hall) and creating a building that needs its inhabitants. The process principles are broad attempts at defining an alternative to an orthodox capital project. The values relate more specifically to BAC’s organisational and architectural makeup. How these ideas migrated out of the scratch process and into

Playgrounding will be looked at in the context of The Masque of the Red Death. Once the basic principles of Playgrounding were established BAC began to look for comparative examples against which to test their ideas. A subsidiary case study of Lina Bo Bardi’s Teatro Oficina will be introduced in which some of these ideas are explored. Finally the process Playgrounding proposes will be examined in more detail in relation to the established method of design and delivery of capital arts projects.



Most artists who benefit from the structure of scratch at BAC make their work through a process of improvisation or devising. The scratch process provides a support structure for a method of making work that can otherwise lack a clear development process. Jubb described this method of making theatre in his letter to Tompkins as ‘making it up as we go along.’ Punchdrunk are a good example of the scratch in practice. The Masque of the Red Death was their fourth show at BAC. The first show, The Yellow Wallpaper, was a ten minute piece in the attic. They were then invited back to make another short piece, The Quest of a Wave, as part of BAC’s main annual festival. The third show, Lord Bulingdon’s Last Cigar, was a young people’s theatre piece, made with participants from BAC’s youth theatre programme.

Improvisation comes in many different forms, however the principle is that material is generated from an initial inspiration or idea, through a series of exercises or games often repeated many times over in search of a storyline or character. As Punchdrunk’s work is largely created in response to a place and the theatrical possibilities it offers, the process begins when Barrett enters a space and gets a sense of the atmosphere, imagining what kind of theatrical world is latent in the space. Choosing to create the world of Edgar Allen Poe in BAC was Barrett’s instinctual reaction to that building. Each previous piece was a scratch of the visual and story-telling themes that emerged in their fullest form in The Masque of the Red Death. After his initial response to the building Barrett gathers a company of actors, who preferably have never seen the space before, and he goes through a series of exercises with them. He looks for what the building does to you when you walk through it – where does it lead you? Where does it discourage you from entering? Where is it warm or cold, light or dark? What features can the performers use? Through this he builds up a picture of how a show might evolve across the building over the course of an evening. He creates a framework which sets out which stories, or chapters of a story, will happen in which spaces.

At BAC he decided to use the entire East wing on the first floor to create the House of Usher because he felt the large rooms with high ceilings had the feeling of a decaying estate (fig.30). Whilst exploring the first floor of the West wing he lifted up some of the wooden parquet flooring and saw the concrete underneath. He decided to turn the whole wing into the backstreets of Paris, with an open courtyard leading to a wine cellar, a piano tuner, a perfumery and an opium den (fig 31). When he knows which parts of the story will be told in which rooms, he designs the show. Barrett works with a small army of designers, painters and prop-makers to create the world of the show in minute, filmic detail. The basic rhythm and structure of the show are profoundly affected by the architecture – what the building has to offer, the theatre engages with and responds to. The performers spend time in the space developing their scenes in relation to what it offers them (figs.32-35). For The Masque of the Red Death they created a journey from a town full of secrecy, confusion and death in


the front half of the building (fig.36) to Prince Prospero’s palace, full of revelry and grandeur in the back, from division, isolation and disorientation in the warren of municipal offices to unity and congregation in the Grand Hall (fig.37).

Once Barrett has created the environments he envisioned, he then introduces the actors into them. The actors are given the setting and the story as inspiration, such as: you are the narrator in The Fall of the House of Usher, this is the reception room of the House of Usher, you have just arrived at the house. It is then up to the performers to develop a way of telling the story. Barrett, as auteur, circulates the set visiting each scene in development and offering direction, watching what the performers have devised and making suggestions. Throughout the rehearsal process and into the early weeks of the show the ideas will continue to change and evolve. Maxine Doyle, Barrett’s codirector, says ‘the cast are responsible for creating a lot of their own stories and ideas, so they have a real ownership of the piece. Every night I’m surprised by things I haven’t seen before.’

Tompkins defined Jubb’s approach as ‘an exploration of improvised, sit-specific and experimental work in the building with a series of theatre artists’ building’s architectural potential.

and proposed a parallel investigation into the

He suggested that to combine a theatrical and architectural

investigation into the space, based on improvisation, might be more suited to BAC than a ‘conventional feasibility study by independent design consultants.’ What would an architectural

investigation based on improvisation look like? Jubb wanted to mirror the playfulness, messiness and search for the unknown found in improvisation in his approach to the building. He wanted to create an environment in which it would be possible to experiment and push boundaries. In order to do that there had to be room for mistakes and time for revisions. Making mistakes is a vital part of the creative process. During the making process, there is no right or wrong answer, there are just proposals. So a performer will try a scene many different ways before settling on a solution. And the ‘solution’ in improvised work rarely remains fixed. Even once a production has been scripted it will change in response to a new space, audience reactions or changes in the cast. In the first two preview weeks of The Masque of the Red Death the finale of the show changed three times. The potential for change and development is inherent in the improvisation process. Jubb described in his letter the desire to find an architectural process which could mirror this, a process ‘*which+ takes account of instinct and story, accidental discovery and a love of play, in another word, theatre.’ Playgrounding would propose theatrical conventions such as improvisation and the right to make mistakes as positive forms of architectural investigation. It would also question the level of ‘finish’ required in a capital project.

91 92

Doyle, M., Showpeople, The Stage, 18.10.2007, p.7 Steve Tompkins S., in a letter to David Jubb, September 2006, Included in BAC Board Papers 2.10.2006, Battersea Arts Centre archive 93 Steve Tompkins S., in a letter to David Jubb, September 2006, Included in BAC Board Papers 2.10.2006, Battersea Arts Centre archive


Finally, improvisation relies on collaboration. In order to find the right answers Barrett first needed the space, then the space and the performers and finally the space, performers and the audience. The show did not stop changing until all three relationships had been established.



Collaboration Iies at the heart of scratch: collaboration between the artist and the producer for feedback and support, and between artists and audience for feedback during the making period and a live relationship during the performance. Playgrounding proposed to extend that collaboration to the architectural process: a collaboration between theatre artists, architecture, architect and audience. Tompkins suggested in his letter that the design should take inspiration from the more ephemeral architecture of the stage set. The close relationship between the development of designs for the architecture and for the theatre would ‘allow the work of artists to reposition the space’ be a more ‘achievable and affordable way of exploring the building’s potential’.
95 94

and would

Finding the balance

of power in a collaboration is key, and BAC wanted to redress the balance between the architect as the active expert and the client (in this case artists) as the passive amateur. The Playgrounding process would be formed out of a collaboration between the imagination of theatre makers and the expertise of the architect.

Practically this collaboration between the theatrical and architectural

processes would allow ideas to be tested through the ephemera of theatre before being committed to in the permanence of architecture, ‘a rare luxury that is seldom achievable in more orthodox developments’.

When asked to describe the essence of Playgrounding, Jubb often refers to the day when he, Barrett and Tompkins first walked around the building together to discuss the project.

Barrett was Tompkins

expounding on Edgar Allen Poe’s work and his use of fire as a significant symbol.

responded that BAC had a number of boarded up fire places and suggested opening one of them up to be used in the show. Jubb recalls how ‘Felix’s excitement for the potential magic of this in the show was matched by my excitement of the legacy of that fireplace in the building. I think it was a moment when theory fell easily in to practice and I realised the idea had legs.’

(fig.38). Tompkins

also recalled that conversation and the experience of seeing the building through the ‘magpie eyes’

of Barrett. Entering the ground floor west wing corridor, which diverts around a series of

partitions, the General Manager remarked ‘All this is a mess – all these offices were constructed – people get partition happy’.

The natural inclination might be to clear out cheap partition walls but

Barrett responded ‘‘The smaller spaces are actually quite good – this is where it gets labyrinthine


Steve Tompkins, in a letter to David Jubb, September 2006, Included in BAC Board Papers 2.10.2006, Battersea Arts Centre archive 95 Steve Tompkins, in a letter to David Jubb, September 2006, Included in BAC Board Papers 2.10.2006, Battersea Arts Centre archive 96 David Jubb, in a letter to Steve Tompkins, 26.9.2006, Included in BAC Board Papers 2.10.2006, Battersea Arts Centre archive 97 Tompkins, S., Fuzzy Logic Preliminary Report, Haworth Tompkins Architects, July 2007. p.11 98 For full transcript of conversation see appendix 5 99 David Jubb (davidj@bac.org.uk), in and email to the author (amg52@cam.ac.uk), Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009 100 Steve Tompkins, Fuzzy Logic, Preliminary Report, Haworth Tompkins Architects, July 2007, p.9 101 Anna Martin, Recorded conversation, 23.11.2006, Battersea Arts Centre archive, p.6




For the show, the twists of the corridor were exaggerated into a maze set inside a doll-

maker’s workshop. The artist is allowed to reposition and define the space and the architect works alongside them with the tools to realise the full potential of the building. Tompkins said

We have tried to imagine an architectural proposal not as a stand alone, all encompassing design that artists would then attempt to inhabit, but as a seamless, ongoing dialogue with the building that originates in the creative perception of the artists themselves. Our aim has been to generate a new/old composite architectural space backwards from a collectively envisaged performance in that space, to look at the architectural design process through the ‘wrong’ end of the telescope as it were.

The collectively envisaged performance offers a complete but temporary transformation of the building, and when the implications of that transformation are understood, parts of the project are selectively retained.

This is, as Tompkins pointed out, a backwards process, as usually the architect

will define the performance territory which the artist will then respond to (through affirmation or denial) in their work.

In the preliminary report on the building Tompkins pinpointed ‘the present lack of building-wide technical infrastructure and access infrastructure’ as one of the main hindrances to creating a ‘seamless found space environment for site-specific work’.

For The Masque of the Red Death BAC’s

technical team, working with Punchdrunk’s designers, temporarily upgraded the obsolete technical infrastructure throughout the building so that spaces could support theatrical lighting and sound equipment. This gave Haworth Tompkins the opportunity to test various elements of the technical infrastructure in the early design phases of the capital project, ‘a rare luxury that is seldom achievable in more orthodox developments’.

There was one further noticeable affect in adopting a collaborative approach to the building. In a collaboration, each person is valued for their individual creative input. In order to carry out some of the work necessary to make The Masque of the Red Death, permission had to be sought from English Heritage and the Wandsworth Borough Council’s conservation department. Working with a listed building to a ‘theatre deadline’ (never early enough) was challenging. However Haworth Tompkins and BAC engaged the conservation officers in thinking about how Playgrounding’s improvisational and collaborative approach would relate to conservation. As the alterations for The Masque of the
102 103

Felix Barrett, Recorded conversation, 23.11.2006, Battersea Arts Centre archive,, p.6 Steve Tompkins, BAC’s Playground Projects: Inventing the Future of Theatre, 2007, Battersea Arts Centre archive,, p.3 104 Steve Tompkins, in a letter to David Jubb, September 2006, Included in BAC Board Papers 2.10.2006, Battersea Arts Centre archive 105 Steve Tompkins, in a letter to David Jubb, September 2006, Included in BAC Board Papers 2.10.2006, Battersea Arts Centre archive 106 Steve Tompkins, Fuzzy Logic Preliminary Report, Haworth Tompkins Architects, July 2007. p.11


Red Death were mostly temporary the project served to build a relationship with the conservation officers based on trust, experimentation and mutual love of the building. The results of this relationship in terms of BAC’s conservation strategy will be discussed in greater detail below. Secondly, to create a show in which an audience of two hundred and fifty could wander at will in semi-darkness around an old building required a creative approach to health and safety. Rather than approaching the health and safety and fire officers as law-keepers standing in the way of what they wanted to achieve, they engaged them as experts who could help the creative team find solutions to even the most challenging situations. By asking those people to think creatively about the building, they elicited imaginative responses. One reviewer went so far as to congratulate the health and safety officer working on the show. It is rare for a ‘non-creative’ member of a team to get mentioned in a review, but it is unheard of for a health and safety officer. The reviewer was impressed by how risky and seemingly dangerous the production felt, which was only achieved because the health and safety of the show had become an art form in and of itself.


Taking Time

Time is one of the essential differences between theatre and architecture processes. It has already been touched on both in improvisation and collaboration. Theatre moves very quickly, making it difficult for the architect to pin down the organisation’s needs at any given moment. Conversely, for people working in theatre it can feel like architecture is a slow-moving beast which takes months to respond to circumstances. Tompkins illustrated the difference with a reference to a Star Trek episode in which half the crew are infected with a virus that makes them move very slowly through time and the other half very quickly. To the quick half it appears that the slow half are not moving at all, whereas to the slow half those moving quickly have become a blur. Tompkins sees himself standing in the gap between theatre and architecture, using all of his strength to pull the two together.


is quite a standard impression of the relationship between theatre and architecture, however the scratch process reverses the view. It is based on the assumption that it takes time to make good work. That does not mean the artist perfects one piece of work very slowly, it proposes that a piece of work will go through a number of live prototypes before reaching its final form. It actually means that the piece will be shared with a live audience much more quickly than in a traditional theatre process, which would see the company spending four to six weeks rehearsing before giving a public performance. In scratch the artist might do a week of research and development before testing in front of a live audience to get feedback. However as a whole arc, the piece will develop much more slowly. In the traditional model, after the six weeks of rehearsals are over, the cast go on to perform the show for a matter of weeks or months and the creative team move onto the next piece. In scratch Jubb cited the example of making Jerry Springer the Opera: ‘There can be several months from one scratch stage to the next and a piece of work can take up to three years to create. This was true of Jerry.’

When he became artistic director, Jubb moved away from the linear process of the ladder of development and towards a web-like structure for developing work that felt more suited to the idea of feedback (fig.39). Rather than climbing from one rung to the next, an artist would develop work in a number of different contexts. Punchdrunk’s development is an example of this: a ten minute piece in a festival, a second short piece followed by a youth theatre project. The key is that ideas keep resurfacing, keep circulating and coming up for discussion, working their way into scratch nights or youth theatre projects. Projects would evolve organically through this continuous loop of developing, sharing, feedback and change.

When it came to working with an architect, BAC did not want Haworth Tompkins to have a few design meetings, disappear and then return with a full set of plans. They would never commission a theatre
107 108

Steve Tompkins, interviewed at his home in Hampstead, 19th June 200 David Jubb, in a letter to Steve Tompkins, 26.9.2006, Included in BAC Board Papers 2.10.2006, Battersea Arts Centre archive


piece like that, so why change their process for architecture? They were only prepared to invest a significant amount of time and money into The Masque of the Red Death because Punchdrunk had already made three shows at BAC. They had a relationship with the company and the company had a relationship with the building. BAC were looking for an architect prepared to commit to a long-term relationship with the building to develop ideas collaboratively and slowly.


‘Things that do not belong’ or the non-theatre theatre space

In his letter to Tompkins Jubb referred to the non-theatre origins of BAC’s architecture and its relationship to the theatrical activity taking place there as ‘things that do not belong’. Jubb had already decided that BAC’s success was due in part to its use of the town hall as a theatre space. Any capital intervention would have to explore and understand that relationship:

‘When something doesn’t entirely belong it is a good provocation for creativity… I have an instinct that this will be about looking to its foundations as a town hall rather than seeking dramatic conversion as a theatre…We will end up with one of the most exciting arts buildings in the UK. Not because it’s shiny, not because it’s perfectly organised, not because it’s a tailor made theatre, but because it provides an adventure for artists and audiences, because it reveals itself in unexpected ways, because you can lose yourself inside it and because you feel like you don’t entirely belong… because that feels like an exciting place to be.’

Tompkins wrote that it was due to lack of any major funds to invest in capital works that BAC’s impact on the fabric of the building to date was minimal, ‘light-footed enough not to dislodge all of its municipal cobwebs.’

He recognised the theatrical potential of a building that had accrued

alterations and furnishings over a century, without ever undergoing a comprehensive redevelopment: ‘1960’s cloakrooms, boarded-up fireplaces, municipal kitchens, abandoned subterranean stores – has remained intact, a compelling and secret world that members of the public rarely glimpse but to which artists are almost invariably drawn.’

(fig.40-41) To perform a complete conversion of the

town hall into a theatre would be to risk the very thing that gave the building its theatrical alchemy. However Tompkins also felt that through the piecemeal conversion of the space into an arts centre ‘some of the power of the found space has been dissipated, tamed by the too-familiar signs of the Cultural Institution.’

Not only had the building been tamed, but the potential of the spaces to be

discovered and used by artists was also limited: undeveloped areas of the building, such as the west wing attic with no access, the rooms filled with asbestos or the damp basements. Tompkins sought to strip away the elements that ‘dissipated’ or ‘tamed’ whilst ‘tuning the spaces to performance capability.’

Preserving a sense of excitement and of the unknown in a space is challenging. It tests the role of the architect, who is usually brought in to create a ‘perfectly organised’ building or design something ‘tailor made’. Rarely does a client say ‘this doesn’t work perfectly, but that works for us.’ However
109 110

David Jubb, in a letter to Steve Tompkins, 26.9.2006, Included in BAC Board Papers 2.10.2006, Battersea Arts Centre archive Steve Tompkins, in a letter to David Jubb, September 2006, Included in BAC Board Papers 2.10.2006, Battersea Arts Centre archive 111 Steve Tompkins, in a letter to David Jubb, September 2006, Included in BAC Board Papers 2.10.2006, Battersea Arts Centre archive 112 Steve Tompkins, Fuzzy Logic, Preliminary Report, Haworth Tompkins Architects, July 2007, p.9 113 Steve Tompkins, Fuzzy Logic, Preliminary Report, Haworth Tompkins Architects, July 2007, p.11


both Jubb and Tompkins recognised that what might be perceived as problematic in a normal theatre, was the very thing that artists were gaining traction on. The less than perfect rooms and services were pushing artists to solve problems creatively, and making them feel at home. It is finding an awkward balance between enabling a space and over-compensating for it. As with the creation of an environment for a child to play in, it is important to have certain elements such as enough room to run around and sufficient warmth, but it is equally important to avoid solving every problem for them. There should be enough room for them to stretch their imaginations and find their own solutions.

The Masque of the Red Death raised lots of issues about the building’s functionality and in seeking to solve some of them BAC and Haworth Tompkins had to determine which ones would increase the theatrical capability of the building, without over-determining it for future use. Punchdrunk struggled with the level of power available in the Grand Hall. They couldn’t light the space and heat the dressing rooms at the same time without triggering a power cut. The design of the set for the Grand Hall was also limited by the size of the access doors: double swinging doors around seven feet high. Instead of making any changes that defined what kind of theatre one could make in the space – as Levitt Bernstein’s design to install a particular kind of seating rake might have – BAC and Haworth Tompkins decided to solve the electrical deficiency, enlarge the doors to 3.1m and make an opening in the side wall to allow larger sets into the hall. These three pieces of work changed the

performance capability of the space, without defining the kind of work that could be made or removing the sense that theatre ‘does not belong’ in the Grand Hall. The next artist to make work in the space is given the opportunity to have their creativity provoked in the same way as those who discovered it first.


A building that needs its inhabitants

BAC and Punchdrunk’s broad aim for The Masque of the Red Death was to create a promenade performance environment that would give the audience as much freedom as possible to roam. The feeling of risk was fundamental to the audience’s experience of the show. However achieving this ‘access all areas’ environment posed some significant organisational challenges. When the project was presented at a staff meeting, Jubb began by saying:

I’d like you to wear the hat that makes you want to work in the performing arts, that has made you decide not to work in the health service, law or retail industry. I’d like you to wear the hat that makes you work in theatre. This is because the idea I want to share is… about what I think is next for theatre.

The plans for the project involved the dissolution of the traditional frontier between front of house and back of house. Jubb knew that they would therefore require ‘a seismic shift in the way the building operates’.

Box office, ticket collection, managing the audience’s entrance into the show,

care of the audience in the building, fire strategies, access to services, temperature loads across the building and access for the visually impaired all had to be reconsidered. Keeping the organisational side of the theatre running alongside the show was also a new challenge. All the permanent staff would have to be moved and Haworth Tompkins’ first practical task was finding new locations inside the building for the administration, technical and production team offices in order to free up valuable performance spaces. An out of use social services kitchen under the Grand Hall was stripped out and converted into the production office (fig.42). In the months prior to the set build a large quantity of asbestos was removed from across the building to meet health and safety requirements. A false wall was inserted into the gallery, creating a small library on one side and the artistic director’s and administration office on the other (fig.43). If any member of staff wanted to leave the building after the show went up at seven, they had to be wearing a mask in order to blend in with the rest of the audience as they made their way through the world of the show to the nearest exit.

The ambitions of The Masque of the Red Death posed major challenges to building operations. The building functioned on the regular model, running three contained studio spaces but in order to overcome the health and safety risks posed by opening up areas of the building which were previously inaccessible to the public, such as the attic, BAC’s procedures had to reviewed. Punchdrunk and BAC relied on a small army of volunteers on a nightly basis. The license to perform was granted on the understanding there would be twenty six volunteers inside the show, placed in high risk areas, trained to evacuate the building in case of a fire. This meant that running the show

114 115

David Jubb, personal notes for staff presentation, June/July 2006, Battersea Arts Centre archive Recorded conversation, 23.11.2006, Battersea Arts Centre archive, p.10


would require recruiting and managing four thousand three hundred and sixty eight volunteers over seven months, not counting the one hundred design volunteers needed to help build the set. By creating an environment in which audiences could experience ‘the delicious and intrinsically theatrical sense of trespass that wandering into unseen parts of the building engenders’

BAC were also

creating an environment that relied on people. During the Masque of the Red Death the building’s operations team overcame health and safety risks, time constraints and staffing challenges with a small army of volunteers. Instead of progressing towards an architecture that eliminated man power, the building needed its occupants more than ever before.

The Masque of the Red Death afforded BAC and Haworth Tompkins the opportunity to experiment and to begin to understand the principles of the scratch process in an architectural context. However they felt as though they were entering uncharted waters, so they began searching for a wider context for Playgrounding that would give them perspective on their own findings. It was with this in mind that the artistic directors of BAC travelled with Steve Tompkins to visit a theatre in Sao Paulo.


Steve Tompkins, Fuzzy Logic, Preliminary Report, Haworth Tompkins Architects, July 2007, p.9


3.2: A wider context for Playgrounding: Lina Bo Bardi and Teatro Oficina

In November 2007 when Jubb, Tompkins and Barrett walked around BAC to discuss potential architectural alterations for The Masque of the Red Death, Jubb mentioned a theatre he had seen on a trip to Brazil in November 2006 when he was invited by the British Council to Sao Paulo to take part in Proximo Ato, a national theatre conference. One night he went to Teatro Oficina to see The Fight, a piece of work by Ze Celso (José Celso M. Corrêa). The outside of the theatre was unassuming, run down, unusually long and narrow (figs.44-45). The experience he shared with Tompkins and Barrett, a year later, was about empathy.

He was waiting outside for his ticket when the doors of the theatre burst open and the cast poured out. Forty performers, some as young as twelve, followed by the audience, dressed for battle, brandishing guns and riding canons down the street. A man started shouting at Jubb in Portuguese. Jubb realised he was telling him to hold onto the door, which had flown off its hinges from the impact of the mass exodus. Jubb instantly felt involved: ‘I suddenly felt this amazing connection to the building – this extraordinary experience – I felt so part of it. Partly because it didn’t work – partly because you had to help them – you were party to it.’

The Fight was one of a quintet of plays about

Brazil’s transformation from a dictatorship to a republic. The performance lasted until midnight. Jubb described it as ‘sumptuous, extraordinary, mental theatre, like being transported to a 1970 happening or orgy or both.’

In June 2008 Jubb mentioned Teatro Oficina again in a design team meeting at

Haworth Tompkins Architects. Some research had established that the architect responsible for the space was the Italian born Lina Bo Bardi. In that meeting it transpired that Bo Bardi was an important inspiration for Tompkins' practice but as few studies of Bo Bardi’s work are in print in English, and Teatro Oficina is a lesser known building, Tompkins' had not connected Jubb’s story about visiting the theatre with her work. She is better known for Sao Paulo’s Museum of Modern Art (MASP, fig.46), the community centre SESC Pompéia (fig.47) and her own home, The Glasshouse. The British Council asked Jubb to return to Proximo Ato in November 2008. A trip was planned that would combine the conference with a return visit to Teatro Oficina and an exploration of Bo Bardi’s work, the idea being that if the space was powerful, perhaps there were lessons to be learnt from it that could be applied to BAC’s emerging process. The story behind the space was unexpected, complex and exciting. As with other spaces that have become known for their particular potency, the story has built up layers of myth which make it complicated to separate the truth from the aura.

The company Uzyna Uzona was founded in 1958 by a group of students from the University of Sao Paulo. Teatro Oficina was inaugurated on the 16 of August 1961. The building went through three architectural phases and as it stands today it is referred to as Teatro Oficina 4. The original function of
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David Jubb, Recorded conversation, 23.11.2006, Battersea Arts Centre archive, p.9-10 David Jubb Email from davidj@bac.org.uk to staff@bac.org.uk, November 2006


the space is unknown, although the symbol for Teatro Oficina (Workshop theatre) is an anvil, which may indicate the building’s previous use. The building that the company moved into in 1961 was a converted space, built by Joaquim Guedes, a well-known architect famous for being anti-Niemeyer, rejecting formalism and working on projects that responded to the needs of everyday life. The unorthodox shape of the shell, forty two metres tall by eight and half metres wide, led to the nickname ‘sandwich theatre’. Guedes converted the unusually high, long and narrow building into a theatre with two sets of bleachers divided by a wooden platform stage. If the building prior to conversion was Teatro Oficina 1, Guedes’ theatre would be Teatro Oficina 2. The company moved into the theatre and dedicated themselves to the ‘metaphoric translation’ of the period and Teatro Oficina 2 became an important centre of the artistic vanguard and resistance movement during the period of military dictatorship. The theatre was denied a license and shut down almost immediately after opening and repeatedly thereafter. Between 1961 and 1966 they staged productions of Gorky’s The Enemies and Philistines, ‘Tis a Pity She’s a Whore, Max Frisch’s Andorra, each one ‘increasing the possibilities of the sandwich theatre’.

It continued to reopen but in 1966, after ignoring repeated

threats, it was burnt to the ground by paramilitary groups.

In 1967 a partnership to reconstruct the building was proposed with Flavio Império, who had designed a set using the full height of the space for a production of Tenessee Williams’ Streetcar Named Desire directed by Augusto Boal in 1962 as well as Andorra, directed by Ze Celso, in 1965. The theatre was rebuilt in 1967, Teatro Oficina 3, and in 1968 Império designed the set for Galileo Galilei by Brecht. It was during this production that Celso and Império ‘discovered the entire space as a performance area and reclaimed physical contact with the audience, like the Carnival, the Candomblé and Umbanda: the invasion and return of the pagan Greek chorus to the theatre…’

The following year Italian born Architect Lina Bo Bardi collaborated with Celso for the first time. The year before she came to work at Teatro Oficina, Bo Bardi finished building MASP, making her one of Brazil’s most distinguished architects. At Teatro Oficina she designed a production of Brecht’s In the Jungle of the Cities (fig.48). Bo Bardi’s designs for the set indicate that Império had constructed a theatre space in traverse, with a bank of audience on either side. During their first collaboration Celso and Bardi began to explore the potential of the space beyond this. They turned the central platform into a boxing ring which they ‘repeatedly destroyed’, in order to excavate the foundations of the theatre.

Bo Bardi arrived at Teatro Oficina to work in an interesting set of circumstances: an

established company with a vision for a particular kind of theatre (public, political, actively engaged with its audience), a company of actors inhabiting and creating in a space long before the

119 120 121

Cronologia 50 Anos, http://teatroficina.uol.com.br/bixigão, 13.2.2009, p.3, trans. by the author. Cronologia 50 Anos, http://teatroficina.uol.com.br/bixigão, 13.2.2009, p.3, trans. by the author. Cronologia 50 Anos, http://teatroficina.uol.com.br/bixigão, 13.2.2009, p.4, trans. by the author.


involvement of an architect, and that space being unexpected: a conversion rather than a purpose built theatre. 1970 was called ‘the year of silence’, during which actors from Teatro Oficina and two other companies blockaded themselves inside the theatre for a month in protest against the dictatorship. In 1971 The Living Theatre troupe arrived in Brazil from New York and plans were made for a collaboration that would tour South America. The plans never come to fruition. Instead the Oficina company toured Brazil, taking their popular classical repertoire to the major cities and the more subversive work to the Northern part of the country. In 1972 Bo Bardi designed one further production for Ze Celso of Gracias Señor in the Teatro Tereza Rachel in Rio de Janeiro. The company was under extreme pressure, financially, personally and politically. Then on the 21 of April 1974 the police invaded Teatro Oficina, opening fire on the occupants. No one was injured but Ze Celso was arrested and tortured. A member of the company wrote a fake telegram demanding his release, signing it from Marlon Brando, Sartre, Levy Strauss, Orson Wells, Fellini, Sophia Loren, John Lennon, Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Fonda, Beckett, Borges and Garcia Marquez. Astonishingly the military released Ze Celso in response, but kept him under surveillance. Unable to make work in Brazil, the company left and travelled to a self-imposed exile in Portugal, where they worked until 1979, leaving Teatro Oficina empty.

The story, or myth, of the Oficina company is intimately woven into Brazil’s recent history and the building reflects the talents of its occupants: it is a storyteller. The company returned to their home in Sao Paulo after the fall of the dictatorship and the theatre was reopened on the 21 April 1979, commemorating both the public hanging of Tiradentes, a leading member of the Brazilian revolutionary movement against the Portuguese in 1792, and the theatre’s own greatest day of political terror when the police opened fire in 1974. In 1982, thirteen years after she first worked in the building, it was decided to carry out Bo Bardi’s design for the space. When these designs were first drawn up, whether during her work there in the late sixties, during the company’s exile or in the three years after their return is unclear. However in 1982 they gutted the interior, ripping out Império’s stage (described as ‘Italian’), to make way for Bo Bardi’s project. The ‘conservatives’ in the Condephaat
122 123

and Iphan

were unhappy that Ze Celso and Bo Bardi were gutting a theatre already

threatened by property speculation, designed by an important architect, in a quarter of Sao Paulo suffering from large areas of dereliction. The project took a decade to complete but shows continued to be made in the space. The output slowed slightly and there was a greater focus on the production of films, but the chronology indicates that the building works did not entirely impede theatrical activity. Bo Bardi’s plans for the theatre were much larger and more ambitious than what was finally

122 123

Council for the defence of cultural heritage Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (National Institute of historical and artistic heritage)


completed and Teatro Oficina 4 was not officially ‘finished’ until 1993, a year after Bo Bardi’s death. Ze Celso called the theatre her swan song.

What emerges from this rough outline of events is a remarkable approach to theatre space, with two defining characteristics. Firstly, all the architects who worked on the space in the period 1967 to 1993 also designed for productions in the space – Flavio Império and Bo Bardi both designed shows before making any major changes to the space and Edson Elito, who worked alongside Bo Bardi, produced films with Celso for three productions after 1980. With a building project that stretched over a decade, taking place alongside the business of making theatre, one must imagine a highly developed, integrated relationship between Elito, Bo Bardi and Celso and between the demands of architecture and theatre. Plans for the new theatre space indicate the level at which this dialogue was taking place: in one of Bo Bardi’s sketches a raised walkway is indicated, marked with the words ‘Walkway. Not advised by the architect.’ (fig.49)

Secondly, the uniquely production-focused approach to the space. By the time Teatro Oficina 2 was burnt down in 1966, the company had been working in the theatre for five years and Ze Celso had developed a form of theatre particularly for that space, indicated by projects such as Império and Boal’s Streetcar Named Desire using ‘the entire height of the space’.

In writing about the future of

Teatro Oficina, Ze Celso said that any further design must begin in the same way as Oficina 4 (Bo Bardi’s) and all the preceding Oficina theatre buildings: ‘inspired by a specific dramaturgy, that is: by the plays…’.

So it was not a matter of an architect developing a theatre design based on received

knowledge of theatre architecture. They had to understand the way theatre was made in that particular space. There is an enormous amount of specificity and belief in the significance of the present in this practice, coupled with a lack of preciousness about the design: respond to present needs, build to allow change later. Celso stated that a design ‘has to follow the expression and the artistic needs of the production forces’.

Bo Bardi’s design is so simple that it allows for great complexity in staging. The new space incorporated ‘the yards of the Candomblé, the parades of the samba schools, the light of the sun, the city and the technology of film, sound and light.’

This summarises some of the key aspects of the

design. The annual celebrations of carnival in Brazil are led by the cities’ samba schools. This is therefore a reference to a space of parade or procession, the commonest form of theatrical activity in Brazil. The basic layout of Teatro Oficina is based on a long, wooden promenade sloping from the

124 125

Cronologia 50 Anos, http://teatroficina.uol.com.br/bixigão, 13.2.2009, p.2, trans. by the author. Celso, J.M., First Untimely Considerations on the Creation of the Anhangabaú da Feliz Cidade, http://teatroficina.uol.com.br/teatro_estadio, 11.10.2004, p.2 126 Celso, J.M., First Untimely Considerations on the Creation of the Anhangabaú da Feliz Cidade, http://teatroficina.uol.com.br/teatro_estadio, 11.10.2004, p.2 127 http://www.teatroficina.com.br/plays, trans. by the author


front doors to the far wall (South to North). This sense of movement through the space is important and is always recreated when the Oficina company tours away from their own space (figs.50-51).

Candomblé is an Afro-Brazilian religion. The rituals of the Candomblé take place in the terreiro, which means ‘sacred site’. However terreiro also means yard or public square, the place where the daily life of the community, particularly the women takes place. Houses built in inland Brazil often have terreiros. This double meaning of the sacred and the public, shared space is embodied in the theatre. Whilst working on Oficina, Bo Bardi was also building SESC

Pompéia: a government-funded

community recreation centre comprising a library, a canteen, a sporting complex and a theatre. Bo Bardi converted an old refrigerator factory and built two concrete towers alongside it for the sports complex. The space outside the theatre of SESC Pompéia is the alleyway between two sheds, roofed over with glass tiles to create a foyer, which Bo Bardi also referred to as a terreiro, a place for special displays (figs.52-53). This foyer space has another similarity with Oficina: it is designed as a performance space, but it is essentially a void, which is referred to in both cases as the Ágora. Oswald de Andrade, the poet whose works Ze Celso often staged, declared through the character of the Poet in his 1937 play The Dead: ‘I’ll live in the Ágora. I’ll live in the Social! Released! The day will come when my closed abscess will open itself on the main square! I’ll expose myself to the large masses…’
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The Ágora theatre is a released space, ‘open for people to improvise in’.


the actual theatre space at SESC Pompéia (fig.54) is, according to its manager, not very successful and is used more for gigs than for theatre. Although more research needs to be done into SESC and Bo Bardi’s other theatre spaces, this demonstrates that it was not her alone who was responsible for envisioning a space of ‘visceral delight, intelligent playfulness and theatrical subtlety’ at Teatro Oficina.

It was the creative dialogue between her and Ze Celso, the theatre maker. Only a small

part of Bo Bardi’s original design was actually built in the decade before her death. The theatre was meant to open out to a large amphitheatre behind, making what is now the main auditorium the entrance through which the audience and cast would process at the beginning of every show. Ze Celso is now raising the funds to continue the works Bo Bardi began which, if carried out, will be the third phase of a project stretching over as many decades.

Bolted into the walls either side of the promenade is a simple scaffolding structure which holds the audience either side and the dressing rooms and tech boxes at either end (fig.55). The walls are of exposed brick and untreated concrete, typically tactile materials familiar to Bo Bardi’s work. Half of one of the walls is pierced with a floor to ceiling window, allowing in sunlight and a view across the Bixiga quarter (fig.56). A simple aluminium roof plate slides back to reveal the night sky. Trees grow

128 129

Social Service for Commerce Andrade, O., The Dead 1937, quoted by Celso J.M. in First Untimely Considerations on the Creation of the Anhangabaú da Feliz Cidade, http://teatroficina.uol.com.br/teatro_estadio, 11.10.2004, p.2 130 Olivia de Oliveira, Subtle Substances. The Architecture of Lina Bo Bardi, Editorial Gustavo Gili, Barcelona, 2006, p. 210 131 Tompkins, S., Theatres Trust Conference Paper, delivered 9th June 2009


up the inside of the window and a working fountain feeds vines climbing up the brick wall opposite. The space was designed to support modern technology in such a way that it could be constantly updated. Nothing is inlaid, hidden or buried. The tech box itself can migrate across the theatre according to the technical demands of each piece.

Teatro Oficina is not without its complications. It is not acoustically sealed, it cannot be successfully darkened during daylight hours, there is no privacy for the cast, a workshop to build the set or separate rehearsal rooms. It can only seat 400 people and the sightlines are technically terrible: anyone climbing to the second level or above has to sit on the edge of their seat and hang over the railings to look at the tops of the actor’s heads. All the main actors have to wear or carry

microphones to be heard. At a recent Theatres Trust Conference Steve Tompkins reflected on Teatro Oficina:

[It] breaks nearly every rule of the theatre design guide and would never survive an Arts Council review… there are no catering facilities apart form local cafes, because the public ‘foyer’ is under the flyover across the road… There is no rehearsal room, no conference suite, no bookshop, no fly tower, none of the things that we have come to regard as pre-requisites when we assemble our design briefs.

The theatre poses the question: does any of this matter if it was designed by and for the artists who make work in that space? It generates an electrifying atmosphere, so despite the seeming discomfort the audiences keep coming back (figs. 57-58). And they stay through six to seven hours of theatre, something a velvet chair and perfect acoustics rarely lures anyone into. Jubb and Tompkins saw the parallels to be drawn between the history of this building and their own process at BAC. Tompkins felt that the building offered a challenge to the UK architecture industry engaged in building spaces for the performing arts:

This will mean a drastic reappraisal of construction techniques and materials, as well as different audience expectations of environmental comfort. It also means more time spent developing briefs, driving down revenue costs and building only what we are sure is essential.

Tompkins acknowledged that after visiting Oficina to research the ideas behind Playgrounding, seeing the results of a comparable process meant that ‘we have been braver and more experimental in our thinking as a result.’

132 133

Tompkins, S., Theatres Trust Conference Paper, delivered 9th June 2009 Tompkins, S., Theatres Trust Conference Paper, delivered 9th June 2009 134 Tompkins, S., Theatres Trust Conference Paper, delivered 9th June 2009


3.3: Playgrounding and the architectural process

The Masque of the Red Death afforded BAC and Haworth Tompkins the opportunity to develop their relationship with each other and the building, establishing the principles upon which they would work, summarised in Tompkins’ description of Playgrounding:

To slowly transform the existing building over many years through an organic process of small-scale projects, enlisting the traces of individual production designs and repeated conversations with artists. The building will not close at any point and the construction work will be regarded in exactly the same way as a series of long performances, with statutory officers and builders treated not as necessary evils but as creative collaborators.

It was only when the show finished and the next phase of the project went into planning that the relationship between those principles and the conventional architectural process was understood in more detail. Almost all Capital work undertaken in the United Kingdom bases its design and delivery process on the Plan of Work, published by the Royal Institute of British Architects [RIBA]. In a design team meeting there can be representatives from five or six different professions as well as the client. The Plan of Work becomes a multilingual dictionary that keeps everyone on the same page, on schedule and, technically, it keeps everyone safe. Recent studies carried out on the design and delivery of buildings for the performing arts however indicate that the Plan of Work is not always conducive to the delivery of a successful, dynamic environment. This study will conclude by looking at how the Plan of Work may be failing the arts client and how Playgrounding suggests potential alternatives to the established process.

Playgrounding’s three process principles could all be summarised in one word: risk. Each one encourages risk-taking in a particular way. Improvisation encourages parties to set out without knowing exactly how the project will end and gives them the freedom change their minds along the way. Collaboration supports shared responsibility for a project. Placing artists at the heart of the process means dissolving the architect’s creative control over the project and increasing the unpredictability of the results. Taking time allows for a much longer creative period and encourages beginning a project without defining the end. Conversely the RIBA Plan of Work is designed to minimise risk throughout the design and delivery of a project. The possibilities of a process that manages risk in a positive way will be looked at in four areas: phasing, conservation, funding and liability.


Tompkins, S., Theatres Trust Conference Paper, delivered 9th June 2009



The Plan of Work was devised in the 1950’s and first published in 1964. It formally organises the principle work phases of a capital project into a series of sequential stages. These stages apportion work to the various parties and assign responsibilities. At the end of each stage there is a formal sign off, when all parties agree on the work that has been completed and decide that the project is ready to progress to the next stage. These stages run from Work Stage A to Work Stage L. The initial concept is developed at stage A and fixed by stages C/D. Stages E through L are concerned with the delivery of the project, from detailed drawings through to practical completion. These stages set out ‘in a logical fashion the activities of the architect normally necessary for the successful completion of work… the related activities of other contributors to the design process are also shown… the activity schedules cover outputs (tasks) and process.’

The Commission for Architecture and the Built

Environment’s *CABE+ recent study on designing and delivering buildings for the performing arts notes that ‘the construction industry and its attendant designers, engineers and consultants work within a tightly-structured, time-driven framework. It is rigidly sequential and there are penalties built into the system for disrupting this sequence.’

In the recent study Designing Dynamic Environments for

the Performing Arts [DeDEPA], Professor Alan Short and colleagues sought to ‘identify factors that contribute to the design and delivery of ‘better’ buildings for the performing arts, buildings where the original creative vision has survived intact.’

One of the key themes that emerged in the study

was the ‘collision between the notion of a linearly progressive building project / building life cycle developing over several years (the Plan of Work) and the turbulence of a theatre company, its production schedule, personnel and the evolving nature of the vision.’

In order to address this collision the CABE guide for clients notes that ‘iteration within the work stages is, within reason, useful and desirable’.

However it recommends formally signing off the end of

each stage to avoid lack of clarity. This does not therefore address the key issue, which is the relationship between the stages rather than the process within each stage. The sign off at the end of each stage is designed to resolve any ambiguity and to create clear, definite moments of decision. In order to achieve this clarity the Plan of Work has developed as an absolutely linear process. Although there is room for iteration within a particular stage, the over-riding aim is to freeze decisions from one stage to the next. The system is not designed to support change between one stage and the next, particularly between the design and delivery of a project. The Plan of Work notes that ‘a significant contribution to making the process efficient and cost-effective can be achieved if client and designers

136 137

The Architect’s Plan of Work, RIBA Enterprises, 1998, page 1 Building Excellence in the arts: a guide for clients, Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, 2009, Page 6 138 Short, A., Designing Dynamic Environments for the Performing Arts, Theatres, Issue9, Autumn 2006, p.10 139 Short, A., Designing Dynamic Environments for the Performing Arts, Theatres, Issue9, Autumn 2006, p.12 140 Building Excellence in the arts: a guide for clients, Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, 2009, Page 6


agree to freeze the developed Project Brief at the end of the Detailed Proposals (stage D).’ introduction to the revised edition of the detailed Plan of Work (1998) advises:



The need for adaptation or expansion of the model to suit the requirements of each project and for each practice, and for careful monitoring of consequences when the logical sequence of events is disturbed or delayed, cannot be over-emphasised.

It acknowledges that every project will be different, that unforeseen circumstances will inevitably affect the delivery of a project and that the ‘Plan of Work alone should not become a ‘strait-jacket’ imposing inappropriate discipline’

, but it advises that any deviation from the model plan has the

potential to become a disruption or delay, which in turn is likely to add significantly to the cost of a project. The closing paragraph of the introduction to the Plan of Work reiterates the need for regularity: ‘It cannot be over-emphasized, however, that the greater the number of unplanned departures the greater the risk of loss of control and abortive work.’

The Plan of Work synthesises the output of each contributor to a project, so if there is deviation in one area, it could negate work done in another. As The Plan of Work also regulates, at arms length, the funding and liability of a project, deviation can also incur risk in these areas. As much as the Plan of Work purports to be a model plan or guide, in effect it ties every contributor into a standardised linear process from which deviation is financially or legally punitive.

BAC balked at the notion of signing up to a process that felt like an anathema to their own practice, lacking the dynamic structure inherent in scratch. BAC was interested in developing an approach comparative to scratch that legitimates ‘the evolving nature of the vision’ and allows for the ongoing contribution of artists. Christopher Alexander, author Notes on the Synthesis of Form, looks at how the process could be inspired by the way design works in the natural world:

Things that are good have a certain kind of structure. You can’t get that structure except dynamically. Period. In nature you’ve got continuous very-small-feedback-loop adaptation going on, which is why things get to be harmonious. That’s why they have the qualities we value. If it wasn’t for the time dimension, it wouldn’t happen.

141 142

The Architect’s Plan of Work, RIBA Enterprises, 1998, Work Stage Procedures The Architect’s Plan of Work, RIBA Enterprises, 1998, Introduction 143 The Architect’s Plan of Work, RIBA Enterprises, 1998, Work Stage Procedures 144 The Architect’s Plan of Work, RIBA Enterprises, 1998, Work Stage Procedures 145 Brand, S., How Buildings Learn: What happens after they’re built, Phoenix Illustrated, London 1997, p.21


Alexander notes that ‘here we are playing the major role in creating the world, and we haven’t figured this out. That is a very serious matter.’

In order to create a dynamic process Haworth

Tompkins and BAC decided on an approach that divided the interventions into a series of small-scale projects, spread over a longer period of time. Each project would be viewed in the same way as a production, developing over a series of phases. Tompkins described this as a series of minor operations as opposed to open heart surgery. As the interventions would be less traumatic for the building it would mean that BAC could remain open throughout the works, avoiding the atrophy in community and revenue funding that occurs in larger scale projects. Crucially however, by dividing the interventions into a series of smaller projects, Haworth Tompkins and BAC were able to introduce an element of dynamic adaptation into the project.

Instead of creating a complete detailed design, then taking every element of the design through the delivery stages in a pre-determined order, each element of the design is seen as its own project that goes through a series of development stages. So work on a particular area of the building or a particular element of the design takes place repeatedly over the course of the entire capital project, with significant time lapses in between each period of work. The first phase is seen as the ‘scratch’ version of the final design, implementing some of the more temporary elements of the proposed works that relate to the surface of the building. New ideas or lessons learnt from the first phase are incorporated into the next one. As the phases progress they engage with the more permanent or embedded elements of the building - the structure or services. One phase informs the next, making fundamental changes of design ideas between work stages possible. Lessons can also be taken from an individual project and applied to another. An example of this is the design for the staff offices. Before The Masque of the Red Death the staff offices were going to be placed at the heart of the building. Due to the requirements of the production this was not possible and the production office was moved into an old social services kitchen on the lower ground floor at the far northern end of the building. After the show plans for all staff offices were revised when it became clear that, despite the best of design intentions, placing them at the heart of the building would freeze up valuable performance space. At the end of DeDEPA Short makes a number of key recommendations:

‘More time needs to be spent in the early stages developing the vision and exploring its implications… expect the design to remain fluid later in the Plan of Work: iterations are good.’


Alexander, C., quoted by Brand, S., How Buildings Learn: What happens after they’re built, Phoenix Illustrated, London 1997, p.21 147 Short, A., Designing Dynamic Environments for the Performing Arts, Theatres, Issue9, Autumn 2006, p.12


BAC and Haworth Tompkins would take this one step further by establishing a permanent feedback loop within the capital project that stretched the design phase (usually stages A through C) across the entire project.

After a talk given in August 2008 on the idea of introducing an iterative feedback loop into the architectural process, one audience member, a software developer, responded that the proposed shift in process resembled that made in software design two decades ago, from the ‘waterfall model’ to ‘rapid application development (RAD)’. The difference between these two models demonstrates succinctly the distinction between Playgrounding and the Plan of Work. The waterfall model is a ‘sequential software development process in which progress is seen as flowing steadily downwards through the phases…’ It was formed before any formal software development methods existed, so the structure was borrowed from the construction and manufacturing industries. The software designer proceeds from one phase to the next sequentially, only moving forwards when a phase has been completed and finalized. The waterfall model has undergone a number of amendments, including ‘Big Design Up Front’ which, like DeDEPA’s recommendations, encourages investing considerable time in the planning phase to avoid expensive changes thereafter. It was however found to be impractical as it imposed on software a model made for ‘highly structured physical environments in which after-the-fact changes are prohibitively costly’.

It was argued that the

waterfall model was inherently flawed because it was impossible to develop one phase of software to perfection without moving on and learning from another phase. It did not allow for the fact that clients may not know exactly what they need from the beginning, or that those needs might change during the delivery stages.

In Code Complete, Steve McConnell criticized the widespread use of the waterfall model by referring to design as a ‘wicked problem’: ‘a problem whose requirements and limitations cannot be entirely known before completion.’

The underlying idea behind waterfall or Big Design Up Front is

‘measure twice, cut once’ but this foundation quickly crumbles if ‘the problem being measured is constantly changing due to requirement modifications and new realizations about the problem itself.’

As with early town halls, it was found that it took so long to build the software that by the

time it came to the user the requirements had changed, ‘resulting in inadequate or even unusable systems.’

Rapid Application Development arose in the 1990’s in response to ‘non-agile processes’ based on the waterfall model. It is based on iterative development and the construction of prototypes. Speed of development is key as software is put through a cycle of model, prototype, back to model and so
148 149

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterfall_model http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicked_problem 150 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterfall_model 151 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapid_application_development


forth. In this way prototyping is used to define user’s requirements and design the final system. RAD demonstrates many of the same pros and cons as Playgrounding. The short phases delay the final design significantly and although the incremental approach lowers the cost of changes that lack of up front detailed design is likely to result in more time and effort spent on design in the long run. RAD promotes a collaborative atmosphere by valuing the opinion of the user, actively engaged through prototyping. From the developer’s point of view this breeds dependency on a cohesive team and individual’s commitment to the project, as well as opening the project to all of the difficulties pertaining to communal decision making. However, like Playgrounding, it levels the playing field for the inexperienced client. Some expert clients may know exactly what they need and how to express that in the right language for the architect or software developer. They will also know how to navigate the waterfall model or the Plan of Work to stay actively engaged in the development process, but the process does not encourage this, or help the client who is going through it for the first time. Lastly, since the process is iterative and incremental it can lead to a succession of prototypes that never culminate in a final product. The same happens in scratch: the Artist Development Officer of a regional theatre recently complained of artists using scratch as an excuse to never commit to a finished piece of work.

In How Buildings Learn, Brand dissected the natural feedback relationship between different elements of a building. He divided a building into slow and rapid components. In general terms, the slow component dominates the rapid one: site dominates the structure, which dominates the skin etc. The architects of town halls grasped this, and the dangers of designing a building that would be obsolete before construction finished. They built a permanent foundation, a structure that could be added to without damaging the overall scheme, and allowed for flexible interior adaptation. The rapid process proposes change, providing the originality and the challenges. The slow process disposes, providing continuity and constraint. Over time however a building will naturally integrate the propositions of the rapid processes within them. As with any building with a new function, that relationship is cranked up a notch. The new function inevitably becomes a rapid process challenging the architecture to adapt to its needs: trying to open windows that don’t work, create a black out in a room with lots of natural light, reach plugs that are too far away, fit too many desks into one office, rehearse in a room that isn’t secure, eat too far away from a sink to wash up, change costumes where cues cannot be heard, warm up in a room that is too cold, play live music without sound proofing so it disturbs all the neighbours and so on. The Levitt Bernstein plan was one kind of response to those challenges. It sought to eliminate the friction between function and architecture by providing a fitfor-purpose space inside the original building. This allows other spaces to be used flexibly, but essentially freezes the relationship between theatre and architecture, committing the architecture and core function to one type of dialogue.


Another approach is to form a merger between function and architecture, putting in place a system to support ongoing dialogue. In his first meeting with Felix Barrett, Tompkins suggested applying Nitromors to the walls to create a peeling effect and to discover the stories underneath. When you begin ‘to merge the real architecture – the permanent architecture – with scenographics, you can choose what is authentic and what is not.’

Here the function is responding to the architecture,

rather only than other way around. BAC and Haworth Tompkins wanted to ensure that theatre had an ongoing engagement in the capital plans by placing the role of the artist at the heart of the feedback loop. This was self evident in The Masque of the Red Death, when the artist repositioned the space as a ‘scratch’ and design ideas responded to those proposals. It is not that straightforward in every case. The diagram below is based on specific examples of works carried out in the building and a conversation with Jubb about analysing the different ways in which architectural decisions have been made:

Who /What Leads?

Artist e.g. The Masque of the Red Death

Space Team

e.g. New production offices in the old social services kitchens


Other organisational ambitions

e.g. Developing a ‘home’ for artists inside BAC

e.g. Re-decorating the foyer area

This breaks down the work carried out into two categories: work done for shows and work done to fulfil other ambitions of the organisation, not directly linked to a particular show. Each of these categories of work can either be led by an artist or by the space team (the makeup of the space team will be addressed in more detail below). The priorities of the diagram flow left to right. Work related to shows that is artist-led is the show itself . Work related to shows but led by the space team are ‘enabling’ jobs such as opening the fireplace, removing asbestos or installing new offices to make room for the show. Works carried out to improve access to the Grand Hall would also fall into this category. Other organisational ambitions relate to areas such as access and facilities. As much as possible these are also artist-led, such as the first phase of the project to build a home for artists inside BAC, which was led by a Punchdrunk designer. Other projects that are likely to fall into this category are the conversion of the attic rooms into artist’s offices, the creation of a library and the development of Town Hall Road. The last category, space team led works to further organisational ambitions should make up the smallest part of works carried out. They should also not be the first


Steve Tompkins, Recorded Conversation, 23.11.2006, Battersea Arts Centre archive, p.4


phase of a project, they should be carried out in response to an artist-led phase.

There are two

examples of works carried out after The Masque of the Red Death that demonstrate this follow of priorities at work.

Just after The Masque of the Red Death finished Tompkins walked around BAC, when the building was in the turmoil of the get out.

He pointed out the markings where thousands of audience members,

taking part in a one-on-one scene, had walked across the floor in the same pattern. He described this as ‘precious presence’ which should be considered equal to the value of the fabric of the building itself. Preserving each of these markings heightens the theatrical voltage of the space, adding layers of ‘proven theatrical possibility’.

During a get out a theatre is usually returned to its neutral state,

sometimes referred to as going ‘back to black’. BAC had arrived at a temporary, performance-led state: some of the changes were meant to be selectively retained as permanent accretions in the building, some were meant to inspire the next phase of the design. Returning to a neutral state went against the flow of the project. It would erase the proposals made by the show and, because BAC was not in a neutral state before the show, it would mean someone on the design team would have to define ‘neutral’, and that decision would over-ride choices made about the spaces by artists. Some decisions were straightforward. There were architectural changes that formed part of the legacy of the show: the restored fire place, asbestos-free rooms and a new production office. However the vast majority of the changes were only skin deep: the technical infrastructure, the paintwork, the props and furnishings. Once Punchdrunk had removed most of the props and furnishings, what would remain as trace? What was precious? And what should be the catalyst for further change?.

It was decided that as much as possible, surface elements of the production should be retained. Three of Punchdrunk’s designers, Beatrice Minns and Olivia Vaughn, (Heads of Props and Detail) and Helen Goddard (Head of Paint) stayed on as part of BAC’s in-house team to oversee the re-conversion. Rooms that had been repainted for the show kept their new colour (figs.59-60). It was decided that further change should only take place if it was driven by artistic intent. This approach could be summarised as resisting the temptation to ‘touch up’ a space and leaving artists to their own creative devices, whilst keeping a sharp eye on their tendency to want to want to erase other’s work, having been inspired or provoked by it, simply out of a desire to control the environment.

Jubb cites a project in which this value matrix for making architectural decisions was ignored. After the get out some of the first floor spaces underwent a makeover in order to increase their potential income from events. The floors were sanded and the walls patched and repainted matt greys, whites


‘Get out’ is a term used to describe the stripping back of a theatre after a show has finished, usually involving the removal of the set, the lights and often repainting the space.. 154 Steve Tompkins, Fuzzy Logic, Preliminary Report, Haworth Tompkins Architects, July 2007, p.9


and teals. Some of the details left behind by the Punchdrunk design team were removed. Later Jubb reflected:

The central problem with the First Floor project is that we didn’t put an artist in charge. Artists tend to be interested in story, in what’s authentic and therefore in my experience they have always celebrated what is already there… my favourite artists are ones that are not scared of what’s already present, of what the space used to be, of the hybrid potential of their own work and the space as it stands. On the First Floor project we were neither employing artists nor using the architect as artist (Steve wasn’t involved in the project) and it led to the voltage (as Steve calls it) of the space being turned down. Mistake.

The project demonstrated that the different delivery strands within BAC (events, theatre, participate) could have conflicting demands on a space. Each organisation has to develop their own value system for making these decisions. In the case of The Masque of the Red Death BAC was prepared to bear the financial impact of the Grand Hall being out of use for events for seven months. For the First Floor project, Jubb later realised that he should have prioritised the artists making work in those spaces and what would provide the most stimulating environment for them over the potential income from events.

The qualities that the spaces gained through prioritising the lead of artists through a phased approach to works, were a sense of past presence in the layers and of ongoing evolution - an unfinished quality. This is described by Brian Eno, quoted by Stewart Brand:

We are convinced by things that show internal complexity, that show traces of an interesting evolution. Those signs tell us that we might be rewarded if we accord it our trust. An important aspect of design is the degree to which the object involves you in its own completion. Some work invites you into itself by not offering a finished, glossy, one-readingonly surface.

Both Tompkins and Jubb had cited, in the first letters they wrote to each other, the kind of project they wanted to avoid: ‘the classic Lottery project model’ that has led to ‘numerous examples… of slick, photogenic makeovers of historic buildings that nevertheless block creative energy as places for making art.’

These spaces offer a ‘finished’ surface, leaving the artist little to play with. In a lecture

published in Performance Research (2005) Tompkins spoke of the architect’s tendency to resolve everything: ‘We architects have failed to comprehend the territory of performance, offering
155 156

David Jubb (davidj@bac.org.uk), in and email to the author (amg52@cam.ac.uk), Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009 Brian Eno, quoted by Brand, S., How Buildings Learn: What happens after they’re built, Phoenix Illustrated, London 1997, p.11 157 Steve Tompkins, Fuzzy Logic, Preliminary Report, Haworth Tompkins Architects, July 2007, p.25


positivistic, technology-led reactions to perceived problems that may not in fact have needed solving.’

The ‘perceived problems’ that Tompkins describes often lie in the indeterminacy of the

building or in the case of BAC, the things that don’t belong. But it is often upon these rough surfaces that the artistic imagination gains traction. The inspiration occurs in the gap between the original space and its new function – that is the liminal space which should belong to artists. That is where the artist finds freedom and a sense of ownership over a space. If that space is commandeered by architecture, there is the risk that without its indeterminacy, the theatrical potential will be neutralised. Jubb described an artist’s reaction to a newly refurbished space in which the architecture has been allowed to seep into every crack or lull: “what *did this cost+, fifty or sixty production budgets? And for what? All you have actually done is make it more difficult to make a piece of work.’”

When architecture is allowed to govern a performance space, a number of distortions can occur. Firstly, the self-effacing, negative space or ‘blank canvas’. Although this solution offers flexibility (insofar as the technical capabilities of the space will allow), the drawback for any organisation engaged in developing new work is that the ‘blank canvas’ can often result in an equally bland response from the emerging artist. Paradoxically, the perfectly designed blank canvas has no

indeterminacy. At the other end of the scale, the ‘magazine architecture’

of design-dominated

spaces that don’t necessarily function as performance spaces, sacrificing ‘geometry’, ‘atmosphere’

or sometimes both in favour of the concept design. Both the statement architecture and the blank canvas present the same problematic assumption: that a building should be ‘finished’.

The desire on the part of the architect to present a perfect totality defies the essence of the history of most buildings: those that have survived tell stories of layers and accumulation. ‘The race for finality undermines the whole process. In reality, finishing is never finished, but the building is designed and constructed with fiendish thoroughness to deny that.’

This becomes a question of the approach to

time and, returning to the comparison between the timescales of theatre and architecture, it is possible to see that a focus on process and long term effect both in scratch and Playgorunding reverses the prevailing view. Barrett worked at BAC for two years before developing a project that changed the top few millimeters of the building’s skin for seven months. In a capital redevelopment project the architect will sometimes engage with a building for a matter of months during the design phase before committing to works that will alter the building forever. Financial imperatives and fear of being sued for mistakes drive the architect onto the next project, but ‘the sins of the architect are

Steve Tompkins, Theatre Notes, Paper delivered at Civic Centre Conference, London 2004, Published in Performance Research 2005, p.1 159 Davud Jubb, Recorded conversation, 23.11.2006, BAC archive, p.5 160 Brand, S., How Buildings Learn: What happens after they’re built, Phoenix Illustrated, London 1997, Chapter 5 161 Timothy West described ‘geometry and atmosphere’ as the key theatrical attributes of a space to Prof. Alan Short, quoted in Designing Dynamic Environments for the Performing Arts, Theatres, Issue 9, Autumn 2006, p.12 162 Brand, S., How Buildings Learn: What happens after they’re built, Phoenix Illustrated, London 1997, p.64


permanent sins.’


In reality, it is architecture that makes far-reaching decisions exceptionally

quickly and theatre that spends months and even years preparing for a moment that will live and die almost simultaneously. Theatre may create and destroy complete world visions in a matter of moments, but architecture preserves a comparatively static moment of creativity for decades, sometimes centuries. It is what Frank Duffy, of DEGW, called ‘an aesthetic of timelessness, which is sterile.’ He asks us to consider ‘What would an aesthetic based on the inevitability of transience actually look like?

A comparison was made by Tompkins in his lecture at the Theatres Trust conference on Experiencing Theatres, between the work of Lina Bo Bardi at Teatro Oficina, and the auditorium of the Latin American Memorial campus by Oscar Niemeyer:

Now sadly underused and reportedly expensive to maintain, the building felt like an exotic dinosaur, fossilized in a moment of history, unable to adapt to changing circumstances. Because it failed to connect the gaps between civic ambition, architectural singlemindedness, theatrical adaptability and human nature, it now looks iconic for all the wrong reasons.

Jubb also draws a comparison between these two buildings:

I would argue that pure, often iconic, singular visions can lead to extraordinary pieces of art, to stunning buildings, that are often also quite dysfunctional. And that more collaborative processes that are “tuned in” to the desires of the people that will use the building lead to buildings that can also be great pieces of art but that also function. A trip to Sao Paulo to see the work on Niemeyer versus Lina Bo Bardi is testament to this.

Playgrounding’s approach to phasing can be summarised in two key decisions: establishing a timetable that allowed for ‘small feedback-loop-adaptation’ to take place and, within that timetable, prioritising the role of artists in order to ensure that architectural decisions leave room for users to determine the space. This does not mean designing for flexibility, which many architects and theatre makers have learnt is a mirage which in itself can be extremely complex and therefore fixed, it means designing for change. It is a lesson that it would seem the architectural profession has unlearnt. The Victorians understood change in a way that we do not: the town hall was constructed with an incredibly loose relationship between the skin and the structure, allowing for the addition of floors,


Frank Lloyd Wright, quoted by Brand, S., How Buildings Learn: What happens after they’re built, Phoenix Illustrated, London 1997, p.66 164 Duffy, F., quoted by Brand, S., How Buildings Learn: What happens after they’re built, Phoenix Illustrated, London 1997, p. 71 165 Tompkins, S., Theatres Trust Conference Paper, delivered 9th June 2009


staircases, mezzanines, walls and doors. The only constant in the town hall was change itself. Stewart Brand describes this as ‘the low road’, using Building 20 at MIT as the example:

‘Like most Low Road Buildings, Building 20 was too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter, Spartan in its amenities, often dirty and implacably ugly. Whatever was the attraction?... “The ability to personalize your space and shape it to various purposes. If you don’t like a wall, just stick your elbow through it… if you want to bore a hole in the floor to get a little extra vertical space, you do it. You don’t ask. It’s the best experimental environment ever built…we feel the space is really ours.”’

This is a near accurate description of BAC and the way artists and staff feel about the building. The low road building gives the artist ownership over the space partly because they can do almost whatever they want and partly because they are often cheap or free to use because they are either architecturally unappealing, or in the case of BAC, large and situated far enough outside the town centre. Morris said that as long as there is free space and free beer on offer, attracting an artistic community is not complicated.

Although BAC was built for a specific purpose, its makers were alive

to change because the world was accelerating at an unprecedented rate. Today we live in a world so dominated by fast-paced change that we design, with little concern for an unpredictable future, buildings that refuse to adapt to alternative uses. Tearing down and starting over has not been considered a major financial or environmental problem until now. Brand argues that low road buildings have staying power because they are not over-specified. ‘Grand, final-solution buildings obsolesce because they were too over specified to their original purpose to adapt easily to anything else.’

However BAC has one feature that does not fit into the low road building category. As grade

II* listed, BAC had to square the desire for freedom and adaptability with a responsible approach to conservation.

166 167 168

Brand, S., How Buildings Learn: What happens after they’re built, Phoenix Illustrated, London 1997, p.28 Tom Morris., in an interview with the author, 4th June 2009 Brand, S., How Buildings Learn: What happens after they’re built, Phoenix Illustrated, London 1997, p.28



This level of dialogue between the function (theatre) and the architecture proposes an unconventional approach to history and the accretions of time. Merging scenography and real architecture so that you can decide what is real and what is not, as Tompkins suggested, challenges notions of conservation. Theatre, in its transience, throws doubt on the permanence of architecture: what we assume to be ‘authentic’ in a building (or permanent) comes into question. Also, the fact that BAC ‘does not belong’ in the town hall alters the relationship between the fabric and the function. Unlike a building still fulfilling its original purpose, there is an underlying rupture between the architecture and function which complicates decisions about the conservation of the fabric. BAC was listed as a Grade II* town hall, not a Grade II* theatre. Although it has not always been the case, English Heritage now recognise that supporting a building’s cultural use is a fundamental part of the conservation of the fabric – a building’s use is acknowledged as part its ongoing survival.

Tompkins suggests that there is an ‘uninterrogated assumption that the architect will do something which is kind of slippery and so called contemporary, offered in radical juxtaposition to something which is old, therefore implicitly obsolete or no longer potent’ Instead he senses ‘the accretion of cultural raw materials and memory, which is precious, which is the thing to be extrapolated and treasured and somehow commandeered for artists to engage with.’

Having a past narrative is the

‘gift’ of redeveloping old buildings. The challenge is not to simply ‘bracket’ the history of the building as ‘redundant material or simply an aesthetic prop to your own new invention’

, something which

the Levitt Bernstein Plans might have done. What Tompkins proposal like in practice and whether he has achieved this in the redevelopment of historical venues such as the Royal Court is open to speculation.

As BAC and Haworth Tompkins planned to divide the work into a series of smaller stages they had to think about how this process would work for English Heritage. They decided to pro-actively produce a Conservation Management Plan that outlined a strategy for the future, describing how they intended to engage with the building over the course of a decade. Conservation Management Plans are often used at complex sites as ‘an informal memorandum of understanding between owners, managers and English Heritage.’

They exist to streamline the decision- making process by outlining types of

works that require listed building consent. Although they have no statutory basis, they are a mutual agreement between the owner and English Heritage – a statement of intent. Writing a Conservation Management Plan was part of ‘winning the overall, philosophical, strategic battle of intent, of

169 170

Steve Tompkins, interviewed at his home in Hampstead, 19th June 2009 Steve Tompkins, interviewed at his home in Hampstead, 19th June 2009 171 www.heritagelink.org.uk/docs/HPR_update_HPAs.doc, accessed on 15.08.2009




After reading the initial draft of the plan, touring the building to assess the sensitivity

analysis drawings and discussing the impact of Playgrounding on conservation issues, English Heritage suggested BAC should be put forward for the Heritage Partnership Agreement pilot programme. Playgrounding’s decision to phase all the works over a longer period of time would usually mean a large number of low-level Listed Building Consent Applications. An ‘HPA’ would formalise the

understanding of the Conservation Management Plan, giving BAC the freedom to pursue their capital plans within pre-agreed boundaries, as defined by the sensitivity analysis drawings. These drawings evaluate the architectural sensitivity of each area of the building by colour coding (fig.61). The colour coding translates into an agreement: green areas can be altered without Listed Building Consent, red areas will require it, blue areas will depend on the type of works. English Heritage felt that BAC’s intent towards the building, through Playgrounding, was to progress with the utmost care and sensitivity towards the integrity of the architectural fabric. Although it wanted freedom to ‘mess around’, it had formed a collaborative relationship with the fabric. It did not want to impose the new function onto the architecture, it wanted to merge with it. To date the Conservation Management Plan remains the key document defining the relationship with English Heritage as further funding is being sought to set up an HPA pilot at BAC.


Steve Tompkins, notes taken by the author in a design team meeting, 1.04.2008



The Plan of Work was written to regulate the design process. It now also regulates, at arms length, funding procedures. Major funding bodies usually require a project to reach a minimum of stage C (outline design) to begin conversations and stage D (detailed design) as a gateway for securing funds. Stages A (appraisal), B (briefing) and C are therefore funded by the client up front. One of the major challenges arts organisations face in beginning a successful capital project is therefore adequately funding the early design phases. Arts organisations tend to operate on minimal revenues and often struggle with cash flowing the early stages of a project. Architecture and theatre operate on very different scales financially and it can be painful for an organisation to watch an entire show’s budget evaporate in an afternoon of discussions around a table. Stages A through C are therefore frequently rushed in order to arrive in the position to secure the larger grants necessary to fund capital works. Lack of ready funds, coupled with the inevitable inexperience of the client can lead to a design that has possibly not been thoroughly examined before being finalised. It can also mean, as Prof. Short has pointed out, that arts

organisations fail to hire the necessary specialist consultants until after the design and budgets have been fixed.

The DeDEPA study looked in particular at the consequences of value engineering on projects in which the design and budget were fixed from an early stage, before specialist consultants could be hired: ‘Given the complexity of theatre design and equipment, projected costs can therefore rise significantly as consultants work with the architect to make a viable design.’

Value engineering

sessions are then necessary to scale back the project to meet the original budget parameters. The study noted how this process often resulted in the ‘loss of original vision.’

Funders should

therefore be encouraged to invest in process, the ideas phase of a project, before an outcome has been established. But process is intangible and if the architect and client are clear sighted, the best result of the design process might be no architecture. Architecture may not be the answer to that organisation’s problems, but ‘no architecture’ is not a particularly attractive prospect for a funder. Recent discussions at the Arts Council have questioned the wisdom of having a ‘Capital Strategy’, as this has the potential to encourage organisations to apply for grants to carry out works that have not developed organically through their use of the building, or to skew the scope or focus of those plans (as with the Levitt Bernstein application). It is possible to suggest that funding a project that, due to financial constraints, has not been through a considered development process is irresponsible and therefore also interesting to consider whether the funding of projects solely from stage D onwards is even ethical. Perhaps, taking the financial and environmental responsibilities of those responsible capital projects into consideration, funders should be required to provide a percentage of up-front
173 174

Short, A., Designing Dynamic Environments for the Performing Arts, Theatres, Issue9, Autumn 2006, p.10 Short, A., Designing Dynamic Environments for the Performing Arts, Theatres, Issue9, Autumn 2006, p.10


funding for research, appraisal, briefing and outline design. BAC decided to pump-prime the design phase, preparing themselves to spend a large chunk of their budget up front. As an organisation known for its focus on process and new work, it was also able to attract funding for research into Playgrounding as a process, as well as the earliest design stages of the project.

The second financial consideration are the architect’s and design team’s fees. In the initial design phases of a project these are paid on a ‘taxi metre’ basis. Once the scope of the project has been established, they are paid as a percentage of the overall cost of the project. The cost difference of taxi-metre to percentage fees is as the difference between hailing a black cab in Oxford Circus and asking them to drive you to Heathrow and pre-booking a local airport service with a fixed rate. Once the project budget is fixed, i.e. they know the client is in for the long haul, the architect becomes cheaper. However this system makes an important assumption: as soon as the design phase is over, everyone knows how much ‘architecture’ is going to be delivered. Everyone knows if it is a £10 million project or a £30 million project. However if you have broken down the phases so that lessons can be learnt and fed back into a later phase, that final figure has to remain at least nominally vague, because some phases may be drastically rethought. BAC therefore decided to keep the design team on a taxi-metre basis, within an agreed set of expectations and parameters, defined by an annual budget to maintain the core project management team dialogue. Fee arrangements for specific projects would be negotiated as they arose. This proposes a number of discomforts to the architect: an undefined period of engagement with a building, an undefined amount of architecture as a result and therefore an undefined fee. It is also much more costly to the client organisation in the short term.

On the other hand, it offers architects something which fixed budgets otherwise deny: the opportunity to change their mind. All artists change their mind. Making mistakes is at the heart of the creative process. Architects are artists and design is a creative process. Architects change their minds, but because they are professionals – expensive professionals –they have to pretend that they don’t. Once the design has been signed off, the idea almost ceases to matter:

It is history and it can never be changed and that idea has been paid for with good money… so you never say ‘you know that idea you paid for? It turns out it was rubbish and here’s a better idea. In most circumstances that’s embarrassing. But with Playgrounding, it’s like ‘how fantastic, now we’ve had another idea’ and so it’s making concrete what most artists go through anyway.

Tompkins describes how architects have to pretend that they don’t go through a process of changing their minds because ‘we’re infallible professionals and we’re expensive infallible professionals more

Steve Tompkins, interviewed at his home in Hampstead, 19th June 2009


to the point, so the room for what would otherwise be seen as error is miniscule and if you want to change your mind you have to do it by subterfuge…’

The design is changed because ‘the circumstances have changed’ or ‘for health and safety reasons’, not because architects are artists and they have therefore had a better idea than their first idea. Alexander describes this: ‘Architects are supposed to be good visualisers, and we are, but still, most of the time we’re wrong. Even when you build the thing yourself and you are doing well, you are still making nine mistakes for every success.’

The more time allowed for in the process to learn from

mistakes, and correct them and get feedback, the more intelligently the design will develop. Jubb and Tompkins established a relationship based on an artistic collaboration. Jubb wrote ‘I don’t want to work with anyone who knows exactly what they’re doing all the time, what would be the point of collaborating with someone where there was no risk involved? You’d know the outcome before you started.’

Knowing the outcome before you start, knowing exactly how you are going to get there

and how much it is going to cost, is the whole point of the Plan of Work.

176 177

Steve Tompkins, interviewed at his home in Hampstead, 19th June 2009 Alexander, C., quoted by Brand, S., How Buildings Learn: What happens after they’re built, Phoenix Illustrated, London 1997, p.63 178 David Jubb (davidj@bac.org.uk), in and email to the author (amg52@cam.ac.uk), Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 20099



The Plan of Work is also embedded in the legal framework of a project. The process of signing off at the end of each stage is ‘partly designed to protect one party from another and ensure liability is clearly carried.’

This means that there is a clear demarcation between different management

bodies’ responsibilities and liabilities. Jubb argues that this structure encourages the passivity of the client, because it actively promotes the role of the ‘expert’ as liability is deferred to expertise. This gives the architect complete control over the project but also encourges them towards locking every aspect of the design down and finishing every detail. Because if the client has had no role in its development, they will struggle to take part in its completion. ‘I think the danger is that collective responsibility is diminished.’

In order to create a dynamic design process, not only does the

phasing of a project have to be rethought but the liability has to be restructured to encourage a more long term, collaborative relationship between the architect and the building. challenging in an environment in which liability is paramount. Collaboration is

Playgrounding’s challenge to the Plan of Work in terms of liability is the breaking down of the “architect” / “client” relationship. BAC’s ‘Space Team’ is made up of members of staff who engage with the building: the Head of Production and Premises, the Artistic Director, the Chief Executive who manages the capital budgets and various other maintenance and technical staff. BAC and Haworth Tompkins agreed that, in honour of the collaboration, there would always be a BAC presence in design team meetings. This has proved challenging for members of the design team who are not used to having the ‘client’ present throughout a process. It shifts the usual balance of power in the room. The client is normally invited to presentation meetings, not to witness the nitty gritty moments when not everyone is agreeing or delivering.

Playgrounding’s phased approach meant that a large amount of the works could be carried out without the help of the design team. This realisation did not come immediately. In a design team meeting for a production in the Grand Hall, Tompkins described the management structure as akin to ‘using a sledge hammer to crack a nut’. Whilst ideas were still in their early phases they could mostly be managed by BAC’s own in-house team, but the issue of liability then becomes more complicated. If it was Haworth Tompkins’ design, being carried out by a contractor, under the supervision of BAC staff – who is liable if something goes wrong?

BAC and Haworth Tompkins realised that in order to make the collaboration a reality they had to go one step further. Firstly, they could not function as two separate teams, watching over each other’s work. Everyone in the core project management team, including consultants, would signalled their
179 180

David Jubb (davidj@bac.org.uk), in and email to the author (amg52@cam.ac.uk), Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009 David Jubb (davidj@bac.org.uk), in and email to the author (amg52@cam.ac.uk), Questions for David Jubb, July 12th 2009


collaborative approach by becoming members of the Space Team. Jubb wanted to ‘stop using other terms that describe a more formulaic relationship such as ‘design team’, ‘architect & client.’


second decision was to put in place a project management structure with much more regular meetings between the three key levels of management:

Artistic Director and Lead Architect (David Jubb and Steve Tompkins) Chief Executive and QS or Financial Director (Rosie Hunter and Lindsay Cornock / Toby Johnson) Head of Production and Premises and Associate Architect or Lead Contractor (Richard Couldrey and Joanna Sutherland)

Providing direction for the project

Providing financial framework for the project

Providing management for the project

Regular meetings between these three key parties ‘will mean that the gears won’t graunch when it comes to starting up a project, because ongoing project management dialogue will have shaped appropriate project teams, timescales and resources around evolving ideas.’

Once projects got

under way, specific project teams would be put together depending on the kind of work taking place. These collaborators would include the artists, design consultants, BAC staff, licensing officers or building contractors.

In the next step, the Space Team will begin to explore how liabilities can be shared between them. Conscious of the high stakes of their collaboration, Tompkins and Jubb have begun to look at how this can be achieved. As this dissertation goes to print, BAC’s board are considering the ramifications of taking on the liability for the capital project.

181 182

David Jubb, notes from meeting with Steve Tompkins, Swaines Lane, 6th July 2009 The diagram is derived from David Jubb’s notes from meeting with Steve Tompkins, Swaines Lane, 6th July 2009 183 David Jubb, notes from meeting with Steve Tompkins, Swaines Lane, 6th July 2009



One of the things which we are searching for is a form of architecture which, unlike classical architecture, is not perfect and finite upon completion… we are looking for an architecture rather like some music and poetry which can actually be changed by the users, an architecture of improvisation.

Improvisation is at the core of the creative process: it is playful, messy, evolving and delights in the unknown. Any rehearsal process, whether text-based or devised, relies to a certain extent on asking questions which are never conclusively answered. There is, for example, no once-and-for-all

interpretation of The Cherry Orchard. Every good production of The Cherry Orchard is good for different reasons and the same goes for the bad. Finding creative answers requires improvisation which is, above all, risky. The creative process is risky. Mistakes are not only inevitable, but a vital part of the journey. In order to design spaces for the performing arts that are responsive to the users of the space, the established architectural process and its related structures must evolve to encourage risk and manage it creatively, rather than attempt to minimise it. The Playgrounding process enables architectural work based on improvisation by creating a framework around it founded on collaboration and taking time.

Collaboration encourages shared responsibility for the process and the outcome, which means that taking risks and making mistakes becomes legally viable. A collaboration places the creative input of artists, including the architect, at the heart of the process. When those artists are allowed to take risks and learn from the layers created by each other, this results in spaces that develop organically, in response to the needs of the organisation and that ultimately reflect the vision of the users. Placing artists at the centre of a process also enables the individual creativity of the wider team. Everyone is challenged to be proactive and take responsibility, using their expertise to find creative solutions. Finally, collaboration levels the playing field for inexperienced members of the design team: the user who may not know what their needs are or how to express them in architectural terms, empowering them to navigate the architectural process, and the architect who may not know what demands working in an arts environment will place on their creativity.

The scratch process supports ‘taking time’ by dividing prolonged creative development into a series of shorter phases, each of which has a tangible outcome shared with a wider audience in order to receive feedback that will inform the following phase. The phased approach makes risk-taking financially feasible as ‘mistakes’ are made in the earlier, ‘scratch’ phases. This method of prototyping means that ideas are tested in the ephemera of theatre before being committed to in the

Sir Richard Rogers, quoted by Brand, S., How Buildings Learn: What happens after they’re built, Phoenix Illustrated, London 1997, p.71


permanence of architecture, minimising the risk of committing to large-scale, permanent ideas that have not been thoroughly explored and understood. Incorporating risk in the short term might make a significant contribution towards securing long term success.

By creating a permeable process of feedback in which design is ongoing, the value of delivering a ‘finished’ building is brought into question. Near the outset of The Masque of the Red Death Tompkins envisaged a process that would ‘test our growing conviction that the most effective and sustainable theatre architecture is essentially provisional, representing the complex ‘now’ and capable of absorbing accumulated layers of performance.’

It has been suggested that the

architectural profession can no longer afford to design buildings that prioritise preserving a static moment of creativity at the expense of future users and in denial of the inevitability of change. In ‘On Not Building for Posterity’ Michael Elliot made an impassioned call against bequeathing to the next generation of artists our concrete visions of what theatre should be. Architecture witnessed the failure of the ‘great’ modern architects to design performance spaces as their ‘inbred urge towards resolution and permanence were at odds with theatre, which continues to thrive on indeterminacy and possibility.’

How has architecture responded to this? In an attempt to meet the rapidly

evolving needs of theatre it has, in many cases, pursued flexibility. But standing on the platform at Clapham Junction, Axel Burrough’s parting words were ‘flexibility was nothing but a mirage’,


lesson both theatre and architecture are learning at great expense. Tompkins proposed that we are in an in-between moment in which we have fallen out of love with the negative space of the black box, but have yet to find the ‘new orthodoxy’ of theatre space. He suggested that ‘if architects are really to be of use in the creation of theatre spaces, we will have to open ourselves to unfamiliar ways of working.’

Playgrounding does not suggest a new kind of theatre architecture that encompasses

all the paradoxical characteristics of a performance space with ‘aura’, it proposes a process that may enable artists and a willing architect to discover the kind of space they need and carry the specificity of that vision through to completion. A dynamic ‘completion’, built not for flexibility but for change, a space that empowers future users to complete it, commandeer it, alter it. Brand writes that a conversation about designing for transience in architecture will be ‘difficult because it is fundamental. The transition from image architecture to process architecture is a leap from the certainties of controllable things in space to the self-organizing complexities of an endlessly ravelling and unravelling skein of relationships over time.’

185 186

Steve Tompkins, Fuzzy Logic, Preliminary Report, Haworth Tompkins Architects, July 2007, p.9 Steve Tompkins and Andrew Todd, Theatre Notes: Paper delivered at Civic Centre Conference, London 2004 and published in Performance Research, 2005 187 Axel Burrough, interviewed at Battersea Arts Centre, 8th June 2009 188 Steve Tompkins and Andrew Todd, Theatre Notes: Paper delivered at Civic Centre Conference, London 2004 and published in Performance Research, 2005 189 Brand, S., How Buildings Learn: What happens after they’re built, Phoenix Illustrated, London 1997, p. 71


Theatre must also rethink its demanding, over-specified approach to architecture. Not only should a building be expected to adapt to new functions, a function, even one as specific as theatre, should adapt to a building. By not attempting to impose the standard expectations of theatre configuration onto an adapted space, both architects and theatre makers will be forced to step outside the orthodoxies of their form, conceivably to challenge the limits of what we now recognise as theatre space. Perhaps the new orthodoxy of theatre space is not one of form or style, but of process. As Bo Bardi said, ‘The Oficina is not the portal to Cologne Cathedral, but it is an important milestone along a difficult road’.


Bo Bardi, L., Lina Bo Bardi, Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi, Sao Paulo 2008 (3rd Ed.), p.258


Interviews Conducted

Tom Morris, interviewed at the National Theatre Studio, 4 June 2009 Axel Burrough, interviewed at Battersea Arts Centre, 8 June 2009 David Jubb, interviewed at his home in Muswell Hill, 23 February 2009, and answered questions by email, 12 July 2009 David Micklem, interviewed at Battersea Arts Centre, 19 June 2009 Jude Kelly, interviewed at the South Bank Centre, 9 July 2009 Steve Tompkins, interviewed at his home in Hampstead, 19 June 2009
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I have also drawn upon conversations with David Lan, (October 2008), Anthony Roberts (at Colchester Arts Centre, 13 July 2009), Lyn Gardner (in Suffolk, 17 July 2009) and Dalibor Vessely (at his home in Finchley, 2 August 2009) and on transcripts from the Theatres Trust Conference, 9 June 2009.
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Bibliographic and Archival Sources


Public Archive Sources

London, Battersea History Library MISC. File 725.13 BATT: Miscellaneous clippings and images relating to Battersea Town Hall & Battersea Arts Centre 792.SHA: Clippings and images of Shakespeare Theatre, Lavender Hill 421.BATT(R3): Battersea Vestry reports and local maps 920.BURN: Scrap collection on Battersea MP John Burns (1858 – 1943) 92.DESP: Scrap collection Charlotte Despard, Battersea Suffragette Unlisted plans of the building, 1896 – 1974 Archive of local newspapers, in particular South Western Star, Wandsworth Borough News, South London Press, Wandsworth Comet, Clapham and Balham News and Putney News

London, Battersea Arts Centre Uncatalogued files relating to the history of the organisation: annual reports, brochures, letters, board minutes, images Online archive of files and images relating to the current capital programme

London, The Theatres Trust Uncatalogued archive of press clippings and images: Shakespeare Theatre, London Battersea Arts Centre, London Young Vic Theatre, London Royal Court Theatre, London

London, Victoria and Albert Museum Theatre Collection, Blyth House, Olympia Recording of Royal Court Diaries, BBC Omnibus, 1997


Published Material a. Anonymous Periodical articles

‘Fears for future of borough arts centre’, South Western Star, 9.12.77, 1 ‘Gordon Craig’s stage settings: designs which depend upon elements of architecture’, Architect and Building News 120 (1928), 299-301 ‘New City theatre and concert hall, Malmö’, Architect and Building News 182, 1945, 40-44 ‘Play it again’, Building Design Supplement, January 199, 8-9 ‘Wohnwelt, Wohnumwelt’, Bauen & Wohnen 28, 1974, 139-147


'Art Centre is for all borough', West Borough News, 25 September 1977, P.6 Arts Council of Great Britain, ‘Taking Part: emerging thinking 2008-2011’, www.artscouncil.org.uk Arts Council of Great Britain, Housing the arts in Great Britain, www.artscouncil.org.uk 'BAC threat of closure - reactions', South London Press, 30 October 1979, P.6 'BAC's artistic director accuses Wandsworth borough council of cuts and claims link to Gerry Adams', Putney News, 16 December 1994, P.2 'Centenary archives handed to local history library', West Borough News, 3th December 1993, P.1 'Council deny cut is linked to pro-IRA play', West Borough News, 23 September 1994, P.5 'Does BAC give value for money?', South London Press, 25 November 1977, P.6 English Heritage, ‘Theatres: a guide to theatre conservation from English Heritage’ (1995) 'Foyer glass dome renovation £60,000', Putney News, 5 December 1997, P.8 'Grant from Wandsworth Borough Council', Wandsworth Borough News, 29 March 1985, P.16 'Hopes to expand, involves locals', South London Press, 18 January 1985, P.17 'Ideas for future of Borough arts centre', South Western Star, 9 December 1977, P.1 'Man with plan for arts centre', South Western Star, 23 September 1977, P.45 'May have to make cuts be of reduced grant', South London Press, 22 March 1992, P.14 'Memories collected for centenary', South London Press, 13 August 1993, P.22 'Now main 'alternative' venue', South London Press, 10 February 1995, P.31 'Paul Blackman leaves after 4 years', Putney News, 10 February 1995, P.4 'Protest over closure – official views – raising money', West Borough News, 26 October 1979, P.1 'BAC Receives £275,000 to make this more accessible', West Borough News, 22 May 1998, P.6 'BAC Receives £30,000 from lottery fund', South London Press, 7 April 1992, Local section P.2 'BAC Receives lottery money for minor work and feasibility study for £5 million development', West Borough News, 18 October 1996, P.1+19 'BAC Receives second sum of lottery money and council ten year rate', West Borough News, 12 September 1997, P.2 'BAC Spending £270,000 on improvements', South London Press, 25 October 1996, P.44 'Story Reactions against play by Gerry Adams', West borough, 3 June 1994, P.1 'Two die in 'Bikers' street battle outside BAC', West Borough News, 6 February 1998, P.1 ‘The Work of Walter Gropius’, Architectural Review 56 ,1924, 50-54 'Building is listed', Clapham and Balham News , 5 June 1970, P.1 ‘Man with a plan for Arts Centre’, South Western Star, 23.9.77, 45 ‘Art Centre is for all borough’, Wandsworth Borough News, 25.9.77, 6 'Modernised BAC re-opens', South London Press, 25 November 1977, P.6 ‘Does BAC give value for money?’, South London Press, 18.11.77, 6 ‘Modernised BAC re-opens’, South London Press, 25.11.77, 6 'BAC proposed closure', Putney Herald, 25 October 1979, P.1 ‘BAC proposed closure’, Putney Herald, 25.10.79, 1
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'Varied program since re-opening in February 1981', 25 November 1980, P.3 'New £60,000 theatre', South Western Star, 31 August 1984, P.15 'Visit by Princess Diana', West Borough News, 17 May 1985, P.1 'Council grant could be cut', West Borough News, 4 January 1991, P.1 'New Boss is Tom Morris (from 1/5/95)', South London Press, 7 August 1995, P.42 'GH ceiling collapses', Putney News, 12 January 1996, P.1 'Interview with Tom Morris', Putney News, 19 January 1996, P.10 ‘Grand Hall ceiling collapses’, Putney News, 12.1.96, 1 'Younger Brewery give £35,000', Putney News, 3 May 1996, P.3 'Local MP praises refurb', West Borough News, 12 June 1998, P.22+72 ‘A hard act to follow’, Building Design 1485, 4 May 2001, 13-14 ‘Young at Heart’, Architectural Review, July 2007 'New chief – Mr Brian Harris', Clapham and Balham News, October 26
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b. Items with identifiable author

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25 June 2006 Svoboda, Josef, The Secret of Theatrical Space, ed. and tr. J.M. Burian, New York: Applause, 1993 Tafuri, M., Theatre as a Virtual City, Appia to the Totaltheatre, Lotus International, Dec. 1977, no. 17 Thackeray, Anne (Lady Ritchie), From the Porch, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1914 (2 Ed.) Thorne, G., Stage Design: a Practical Guide, Marlborough: Crowood Press, 1999 Todd, Andrew and Lecat, Jean-Guy, the Open Circle: Peter Brook’s theatre environments, London: Methuen, 2002 Tomlin, Liz, English theatre in the 1990s and beyond, Cambridge History of British Theatre vol.3, Cambridge, 2004, p. 498-512 Tuan, Yi-Fu, ‘Space and Context’ in By Mean of Performance, ed. Richard Shechner and Willa Appel, Cambridge Univeristy Press1990, p.236-244 Tuan, Yi-Fu, Passing Strange and Wonderful: aesthetics, nature and culture, Washington, D.C.: Island Press 1993 Tweedy-Smith, R., Ald., The History, Law, Practice and Procedure relating to Mayors, Aldermen and Councillors, Jordan and Sons, London 1934 Vesely, D., Architecture in the age of divided representation, the question of creativity in the shadow of production, Cambridge, MIT Press, 2004 Villiers, André (ed.), Architecture et dramaturgie, Paris: Flammarion, 1950 Vitruvius Pollio, Marcus, The Ten Books of Architecture v.i.1-2, tr. M.H. Morgan, Cambridge, Mass.,: Harvard University Press, 1914 Vitruvius, The Ten Books on Architecture, trans. Morris Hicky Morgan, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press 1914 Wallace, N., ‘Peter Brook, theatre space and the Tramway’, pp.61-63 in Ronnie Mulryne and Margaret Shewring (eds.), Making space for theatre, Stratford, Mulryne and Shewring, 1995 Walton, M. J. (ed.), Craig on Theatre, Methuen London 1983 Wiles, D., A Short History of Western Performance Space, Cambridge University Press, 2003 Wiles, D., Tragedy in Athens: Performance Space and Theatrical Meaning ?? Williams, A., ‘Play School’, Architects Journal 213/3 (25 January 2001): 28-35 Witts, Richard, Artist Unknown: An Alternative History of the Arts Council, Little, Brown and Company, London, 1998 Yin, R.K., Case study research: design and methods, Thousand Oaks and London, SAGE, 2004 Young, E., ‘Drama Class’, RIBA Journal 110 (March 2003): 51-56 Young, K., Re-Reading the Municipal Progress: A crisis revisited, in Loughlin, L., Gelfand, M.D. and Young, K. (Eds.), Half a century of Municipal Decline: 1935-1985, George Allen & Unwin, 1985, p.1-25 Zukowsky, J. (ed.), Karl Friedrich Schinkel 1781-1841: the drama of architecture, Chicago 1994



Unpublished dissertations, lectures and Conservation Plans


Kenton, Gail, Naturally Ventilated Theatres, Design for Occupant Comfort, seminar held at the Cambridge Architecture Faculty, 30.1.2009 Head, Peter, ARUP, Basic Principles of Auditoria Acoustics: Case Study Elisabeth Murdoch Hall, Melbourne, Australia, seminar held at the Cambridge Architecture Faculty, 30.1.2009 Samuels, Mohra, Theatres Trust, Summary of findings from the Theatres Trust Conference on Building Sustainable Theatres (June 2008), seminar held at the Cambridge Architecture Faculty, 30.1.2009 Central School of Speech and Drama, Conference on the role of research and development in making theatre, Convened by Andy Lavender, Katherine Alexander, Speakers: David Jubb (BAC), Kate McGrath (Fuel), Purni Morell (National Theatre Studio), 28 January 2009 Haworth Tompkins Architects with Allegra Galvin, ‘Battersea Arts Centre Conservation Management Plan,’ (2007) Haworth Tompkins Architects, ‘Young Vic Theatre Conservation Management Plan’, ( 2004) Fair, A., ‘British Theatres 1926-1991: an architectural history, PhD Dissertation, University of Cambridge, 2007 Tompkins, S., Theatres Trust Conference Paper, delivered 9 June 2009 Haworth Tompkins Architects, ‘Fuzzy Logic: Battersea Arts Centre Preliminary Report, July 2007
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Online Sources

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/56119/Battersea http://www.haworthtompkins.com/ http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a/ Documents in the online archive of Teatro Oficina, accessed repeatedly from January – June 2009 at http://teatroficina.uol.com.br Battersea local history documents and images accessed repeatedly from October 2008 to September 2009 athttp://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/info/200064/local_history_and_heritage Punchdrunk theatre company backgroung information accessed on 28.05.2009 at http://www.punchdrunk.org.uk/about.htm Costa Meyer, E. de, After the Flood: Lina Bo Bardi’s Glass House, Harvard Design Magazine, N.16, Winter/Spring 2002 (downloaded from http://www.gsd.harvard.edu/research/publications/hdm/back/16decosta_meyer.html) Heritage Partnership Agreement update accessed on 15.08.2009 at www.heritagelink.org.uk/docs/HPR_update_HPAs.doc Project details for Young Vic Theatre, accessed on 2.09.2009 at http://www.designbuildnetwork.com/projects/young-vic/




Biography of E.W. Mountford, by A.S. Gray, Edwardian Architecture: A Biographical Dictionary (1985)


English Heritage Listing, 1970, Battersea History Library, 725.13BATT


Timeline of BAC, 1801-2001


Transcript of ‘walk round’ for The Masque of the Red Death with David Jubb, Steve Tompkins and Felix Barrett, Battersea Arts Centre archive, 23 November 2006
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Transcript of interview with Axel Burrough, Battersea Arts Centre, 8 June 2009


Transcript of interview with Jude Kelly, South Bank Centre, 9 July 2009


Transcript of interview with David Micklem, Battersea Arts Centre, 19 June 2009


Transcript of interview with Steve Tompkins, at his home in Hampstead, 19 June 2009


Questions answered by David Jubb, in an email, 12 July 2009


Appendix 1

Biography of E.W. Mountford

A.S. Gray, Edwardian Architecture: A Biographical Dictionary (1985), also printed in Battersea Arts Centre Conservation Management Plan, 2007

Mountford, Edward William 1855-1908

E.W. Mountford was born in 1855 in Warwickshire, he began his architectural career as a clerk of works fofr St. Stephen’s, Hounslow in 1871 for Habershon and Pite of Bloomsbury Square, London. In 1876 he became principal assistant to Pery Elkington and Sons and in 1879 to Giles and Gough. The following year he set up his own practice on his own account. His early work consisted largely of churches, church schools and rectories, many of them in Wandsworth.

In 1888 Mountford did his first public building, the Battersea Library, Lavender Hill, SW11 choosing the Early French Renaissance style, introduce by T.E. Collcutt eleven years earlier in Wakdefiled Town Hall. Much of Mountford’s subsequent work was in the field of town halls, municipal buildings, technical colleges and schools, many of them won in competitions. His first major success was Sheffield Town Hall (1890-94), again in Early French Renaissance style. This was followed by Battersea Town Hall on Lavender Hill, in the same style.

In 1900, with the Hitchin architect Geoffrey Lucas, Mountford won the competition for the small Hitchin Town Hall. In 1907, on quite a different scale, he won the splendid Lancaster town Hall the gift of the linoleum manufacturer Lord Ashton, who had given Williamson Park to the town, this was a palace of splendid proportions, all correctly early Georgian and reviving the style of James GibbsL the interior was eaually grand and the whole was built by the Waring Whit Co., a subsidiary of Waring & Gillow of Lancaster and London (Bldr, 9.11.07)

Mountford’s first technical institute was the ‘Wrennaissance’ style Battersea Polytechnic, Battersea Park Road, SW11, built in 891 on part of the site previously occupied by the Albert Palace – a second hand iron building transferred to Battersea from the Dublin Exhibition of 1872 and opened as a concert hall and picture gallery by the speculator ‘Baron’ Grant (the venture failed after a year, and the building was pulled down in 1894).

In 1896 Mountford won the competition for Northampton Institute (now City University) on the estate of the Earl of Northampton, St John St., EC1. This is in a Free-Classic style, somewhat French in flavour. Mountford also designed the College of Technology and Museum Extension,


Byrom Street, Liverpool, giving the façade paired columns, one square, one round – swathed in rustications and flanking wide pedimented niches which are surmounted by figures in Michelangelesque poses (Bldr, 11.1.02).

Among his buildings, the block of offices for Booth’s distillery in Turnmill Street, Smithfield, EC! (Bldr, 17.8.01 was of exceptional quality.


Appendix 2

English Heritage Listing, 1970, Battersea History Library, 725.13BATT


LIST_ENTRY_DESCRIPTION --------------------

LAVENDER HILL SW11 1.5033 Battersea Community Arts Centre (Formerly listed as the former Battersea Town Hall with offices and public assembly hall)

TQ 2775 9/4 13.2.70 II*2

1892, by E.W. Mountford Large, detached building. Front block in free classical style, Red brick and brown stone with high, pantiled roof. Main façade ambitiously treated with Ionic columns, 3 shaped pediments and figure sculpture. Inerior contains fine marble staircase with arcaded gallery on 3 sides. Good council chamber with arched ceiling. Offices plainly treated but of considerable merit externally. Assembly hall and vestibule also of interest.

Listing NGR: tq2785475640


Appendix 3

Timeline of Battersea Town Hall / Battersea Arts Centre1801 to 2001


Population of Battersea: 3,365


Municipal Reform Act abolishes property-based voting scale (introduced in 1818 by the Sturges Bourne Act: a scale of voting, allowing ratepayers between one and six cotes depending on the value of their property.) Establishment of 178 incorporated boroughs governed by elected councils (instead of closed corporations). Towns could apply to be incorporated but as the process was expensive and complicated many did not, and although it granted equal votes to all ratepayers it generally favoured the middle classes, as few working men were wealthy enough to be ratepayers. Some saw incorporation as an attempt to reinforce economic dominance with political authority, cloaked in democracy and universal suffrage. They feared that the wealthy manufacturers who already held social and economic sway would gain further control over the working class – essentially raising up a new aristocracy: ‘turtle-fed aldermen and cotton lord mayors’. The City of London however defended itself against these reforms longer than the rest of the country and remained an abyss 'of Parish Vestries, Boards of Improvement Commissions, Boards of Guardians', - totalling over two hundred different governing bodies.


Metropolis Management Act formalises local government into distinct Parish Vestries and Boards of Works. Civil responsibilities of the parish are passed to the newly formed Metropolitan Board of Works. The Parish of Battersea is therefore no longer an authority in its own right but is governed by Wandsworth Board of Works.


Vestry of Battersea build Lammas Hall with funds awarded to them by the government as compensation for the loss of grazing rights in the newly established Battersea Park. Having just lost their control as a Parish, perhaps this was an attempt to mark out a political territory distinct from Wandsworth.


Population of Battersea: 19,600


Hasluck, 1948, p.163-164



Clapham Junction railway opens


Nassau Seniors move to Elm House on Lavender Hill, later to become the site for the town hall: ‘The house had several great English elms in front of it; when the family moved there it was surrounded by fields, though during the next ten years the city crept rapidly around it…*the house was+ square and deep, with a garden at the back and pasture for a couple of cows… Lawns ran to the distant boundary, while beyond lay a faraway horizon. It was not the sea that one saw spreading before one’s eyes, but the vast plateau of London, with its drifting vapours and its ripple of housetops flowing to the meet the sky-line.’


Population of Battersea: c.54,000


New building is proposed to replace Lammas Hall, with a hall capacity of 1,000. Scheme is abandoned.


Second building proposed for £10,000, half the amount of the 1878 scheme


Second scheme also abandoned Population of Battersea: just over 100,000


Progressives gain control of Battersea vestry: ‘a shifting alliance of trade unionists, socialists, radicals, liberals and temperance and Free Church activists governed Battersea first in the vestry, then in the council.’

They remain in power until 1919, when they are replaced by

the Labour Party, which apart from a three year gap in the 1930’s retained control until Battersea Borough ceased to exist.


Local Government Act reconstitutes the areas of the Metropolitan Board of Works as the County of London. Battersea becomes a schedule ‘A’ Parish, meaning it is large enough to merit its own local government. The Vestry move from Lammas Hall to offices on Battersea Rise and begin looking for a site for the new town hall.

New Baptist Chapel on Northcote Road in Battersea opens, designed by E.W. Mountford


Thackeray, Anne, ‘In my Lady’s Chamber’, quoted by Dorothea M. Hughes in Memoir of Jane Elizabeth Senior, G.H. Ellis, Boston, 1916, p.85 193 Cunningham, C., Victorian and Edwardian Town Halls, London, Boston and Henley, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981, Timeline of Town Halls in the Appendix 194 Loobey, Patrick, Battersea Past, Historical Publications, London 2002, p.129



Charles Booth’s survey of London divides the population into eight strands based on earnings. Battersea is predominantly a suburb of the skilled working class (38%): workmen in manufacturing and transport, clerks, shop workers and domestic servants. Highly Paid Artisan (19%) is the next largest group. Political focus is naturally trained towards the conditions of the working class: wages, working hours, transport, the formation of unions. John Burns becomes the representative for Battersea on London City Council. Burns leads the Dockers Strikes


Battersea Public Library on Lavender Hill opens, designed by E.W. Mountford


June: The two acre site of Elm House Estate on Lavender Hill is purchased for the new town hall: motion proposed by Vestryman Rossiter and seconded by Vestryman Charles Mason, passed 56:12. The estate was purchased for £8,450, with the total for the building ‘not to exceed £42,000.’


E.W. Mountford’s proposal was accepted, he was awarded £150

19 December: Ground Floor plan published in the Builder


John Burns becomes MP for Battersea (until 1914) ‘Did he but show himself, Battersea would shout the roof of the Town Hall down in clamouring for him to begin. Thus there is nothing for the right honourable gentleman to do but hide himself. So here he lurks in a dark little corner on the crooked little staircase leading to the platform’ 1 June: Committee accept the tender of Mr. W. Wallis, the contract sum for the erection of the Buildings was £26,258. Building begins and progress is extremely rapid due to ‘exceptionally fine weather’

, though not without the occasional surprise:

‘The fall in the ground is so rapid that it has been found to be possible to obtain a complete storey below the floor of the Public Hall, yet entirely above ground and this although the floor level of the Public Hall is several feet below that of the Municipal Offices.’ Plans are altered along the way: ‘A considerable amount of work which was not included in the selected design has been carried out in the course of the erection of the buildings… this is particularly noticeable in the plans for the Grand Hall’. A simple balcony is added to the Grand Hall (increasing capacity from 1000 to 1140. Today the capacity is 800).

195 196

Loobey, Patrick, Battersea Past, Historical Publications, London 2002, p.14 Programme of Inauguration, Battersea Municipal Buildings and Town Hall, 15.11.1893, p.20 (Misc. File 725.13 BATT), Battersea History Library 197 Programme of Inauguration, Battersea Municipal Buildings and Town Hall, 15.11.1893, p.20 (Misc. File 725.13 BATT), Battersea History Library


July 9 : Artist’s view of the principal staircase is published in the Builder



July 8 : The elevation is published in the Builder alongside a list of the principal features of the plan (see Appendix) 15 November: Town Hall is opened by Lord Roseberry. Battersea had only been a borough for five years. MP for Battersea is John Burns, the first working class person to become a member of parliament.


Battersea Polytechnic opens, designed by E.W. Mountford


The Shakespeare Theatre opens next door to the Town Hall


Second phase of works on the town hall – new staircase and landing added in West wing, front half.


Council adopt the motto Non mihi, non tibi, sed nobis (Neither for me, nor for you, but for us)

Work carried out on the Retiring Rooms and the new Refreshment Room. An organ is commissioned for the Grand Hall from NAME OF ORGAN PEOPLE

London Government Act: divides the County of London into 28 Metropolitan Boroughs, dissolving the vestries and district boards of works. The Parish of Saint Mary Battersea becomes the Metropolitan Borough of Battersea. The Borough Council replace the vestry.


Population of Battersea is 168,907


The council decline to sign a loyal address on Edward VII’s coronation


Town Hall Dwellings are constructed: 18 tenements of two flats, equal to a total of 351 housing units.


Emily Pankhurst presides over meeting in Grand Hall


Christabel Pankhurst presides over meeting in Grand Hall


10 November: Election of Britain’s first black mayor of a metropolitan borough, John Archer.



Election of Indian, Communist Labour Party candidate Shapurji Saklatava as Mayor. Communist Party National Congress


Plans drawn up for proposed alterations to the Town Hall


Communist Party National Congress


Local headquarters during the General Strike, building remains open 24 hours a day.


Communist Party National Congress


Mayor Shapurji Saklatava stands down following a ban on communist Labour Party members.


Celebration of Charlotte Despard’s 89 Birthday (an early member of the Battersea Trades Council, Labour Party and leader of the Women’s Freedom League).


American singer Paul Robeson appears at a concert to celebrate the 20 anniversary of the founding of the Soviet Union.


Doris Nichols wins fight for equal pay of town hall workers, regardless of sex.


First bombs drop on Battersea. Lower Hall becomes centre for air raid precautions. ‘Jan 7 1941. Went on the police phone. Had a lot of bombs drop on Glycena and Grayshott Roads. They shook T.H.’ Elsie Young’s Diary. Grand Hall is used for the distribution of gas masks: ‘In 1939, as did hundreds of other people, I collected my gas mask from the Town Hall… None of them seemed to fit very well… then war came and I was evacuated with my school – Honeywell Road – to Bognor Regis, but returned to hear the first bomb drop on Battersea in 1940.’


3,000 houses destroyed by bombs in Battersea. Up to 1948 22,000 houses received bomb damage repair

Local Government Act enabled local authorities to spend a proportion of their budget on entertainment and Trevor Dobinson, who worked as Deputy Entertainments Officer in the early 1960’s recalled how ‘to some extent the Grand Hall replaced the role of the Shakespeare Theatre.’



Barbara Hayr becomes a Tory Councillor and recalls voting in the Lower Hall with her mother: “She said ‘Now, I want you to promise me that when you grow up you will always vote in an election. We had to fight so hard to get the vote, so you must never waste it.’”


Shakespeare Theatre is demolished due to bomb damage. Replaced with an office block (now Foxtons).


Population of Battersea: c.100,000


London Government Act dissolves Battersea Borough into Wandsworth Borough Council.


31 March: The last meeting is held in the Battersea Town Hall Council Chamber. The councillors move offices to Wandsworth Town Hall.


2 June: South Western Star announces that Battersea Town Hall is to be chopped in two, partially demolished and replaced by a new swimming pool and library. The design, by the Borough Architect L. Phillips, replaced the Victorian frontage and extended onto the site of the old Shakespeare Theatre, leaving only the Grand Hall intact. ‘the cost of keeping the council chambers and other rooms open was heavy and they were not being used by any other organisation in the borough.’

Alderman Sidney Sporle, Leader of the Council

revealed plans to build a swimming pool and library on the site to provide better facilities and release the sites of old Central Library on Lavender Hill and the Latchmere Baths, releasing land valued at nearly £1.5 million for redevelopment.

16 June: Battersea Society form a movement to rescue the Town Hall: ‘Battersea Town Hall is not going to be chopped in half without a struggle on the part of the Battersea Society’ There was a fear that Battersea’s identity would be lost: ‘Consciously or sub-consciously the present council’s real motive is to remove the last remaining municipal reminder of the old borough of Battersea in order to stamp their own authority on the district.’
201 200



16 June: Nikolaus Pevsner writes to Wandsworth Borough Council: ‘I know Battersea Town Hall well and I would, not only as Chairman of the Victorian Society, but also personally, be very perturbed if it were true that there are plans for demolition.’
198 199



No one wants to use council chamber, Battersea Town Hall to be chopped in two, South Western Star, 2.6.1967 Anon., Town Hall’s famous façade must go, South London Press, 26.9.1967 200 They will fight to save the old Town Hall, South Western Star, 16.6.1967 201 Eleventh-hour reprieve for Town Hall being sought, South Western Star, 14.7.1967 202 Pevsner, N., Letter from Victorian Society, 16.6.1967, Misc. File 725.13 BATT, Battersea History Library


21 June: John Betjeman writes to Wandsworth Borough Council: ‘This Town Hall, particularly inside, is what a Town Hall ought to be. It lifts you up. It has scale and it is irreplaceable.’


July: Councillor Sendall stated that the Labour majority on the old Battersea council had spent large amounts of money on the offices inside the Town Hall just before the merger with WBC. He questioned what had happened to their ideas for its future use. Alderman Sporle responded that the circumstances were now different.

21 July: Battersea Society wrote an open letter to Wandsworth Council, challenging them to debate their plans for the Town Hall in public: ‘As a suggestion the motion to be debated might be ‘That now is the time to pull down the front of Battersea Town Hall. For: A representative of the Wandsworth Borough Council. Against: A representative of Battersea Society.’


August: It is revealed that Wandsworth Borough Council have neither the funds nor permissions to build the plans that have been drawn up for the site. The Town Hall will be knocked down to create a potential site: ‘the council has been advised by the Government to continue with its plans on the basis that when the present restrictions end, councils with sites and plans ready will be the first to get approval.’

Autumn: WBC remain determined to execute their plans: ‘Wandsworth Council has finally decided that Battersea Town Hall frontage must – and will – come down.’

Leader of the Council Alderman Sporle stated that ‘he would regret the passing of the old council offices as much as any other member of the old Battersea council but he would not allow emotion… to colour his judgement’.


1 September: Local surveyor Neville Rayner writes to PM Harold Wilson: ‘*Battersea’s+ pride, affection and closely knit community life has, for over half a century, centred round this Town Hall as a focal point… The architectural qualities of the façade are of a very high standard and, apart from the community factors already mentioned, would be an architectural loss to London.’

203 204

Copy of letter from John Betjeman, 21.6.1967, Misc. File 725.13 BATT, Battersea History Library Anon., Town hall baths scheme goes on, Clapham News – Observer, 4.8.1967 205 Open letter by Battersea Society: Council challenged to debate its Town Hall plan, South Western Star, 21.7.1967 206 Anon., Victorian relic goes – to free valuable land, The Evening News, 25.9.1967 207 Anon., Ald. Sporle not convinced there is much concern, South Western Star, 4.8.1967 208 Rayner, N., Prime Minister invited to intervene, South Western Star, 1.9.1967


18 September: an official application is made by the Battersea Society to the Historic Building Committee of the Greater London Council for a preservation order to be placed on the building. The Housing Minister, Anthony Greenwood, is advised that the Town Hall should be listed as of special architectural and historic interest. He requests that WBC reconsider its plans in light of this. 25 September: Alderman Sporle convenes a meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee to consider the Housing Minister’s letter: ‘I will personally do my best at the meeting to ensure that the architectural merits are considered in any future decision about the Town Hall’s future.’ 29 September: Sporle confirms that despite local pressure over the summer months ‘it must and will come down’.
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The theme of the meeting is ‘sentiment must not be allowed

to stand in the way of progress.’ Sporle says: ‘People die and we bury the body but do not forget the person. The same thing happens to old buildings, we have to look to the future.’

October: Debate over the Town Hall’s architectural merit: Councillor Jim Carrana: The Town Hall is ‘a reflection of past poverty…poor and cheap.’ Ex-councillor D.G. Adams: ‘Those who are against demolition of any part of it don’t say that it is beautiful and they didn’t gather 4,500 signatures to prove it. *The Town Hall was built in times of] extreme hunger and privation… therefore our town hall was not a creative beauty. It was staid, but it meant something to Battersea.’

‘The town hall may not be London’s most beautiful building, but it does possess a certain ponderous charm not usually found in late Victorian buildings.’

11 October: Harold Wilson replies to Neville Rayner’s letter, saying that the town hall had been inspected and ‘it is now agreed that it is a building of considerable architectural distinction which merits inclusion in the statutory list… I hope that this will ensure the possibility of retaining the existing building…’


December: Meeting of the Ad-hoc Committee in which it is expected the future of the site will be decided. There is a general discussion but they end the meeting with ‘nothing to report’.

209 210

Anon., Town Hall’s famous façade must go, South London Press, 26.9.1967 Anon., Town Hall controversy: sentiment must not stand in the way of progress, South Western Star, 29.9.1967 211 Adams, D.G., What the Town Hall means to an ex-councillor, South Western Star, 20.10.1967 212 Anon., Opinion, South Western Star, 13.10.1967 213 Anon., Wilson’s help saves ‘heart’ of Battersea, Daily Telegraph, 11.10.1967 214 Anon, Page one opinion, South Western Star, 8.12.1967



May: Labour-led council’s election documents states: ‘Provided it is not held back by reactionary elements locally, aiming to preserve an architectural monstrosity, the overall replanning of the site can provide a really up to date and impressive cultural and leisure centre for Battersea.’

Labour lose the 1968 election.

September: Tory-led council have still failed to come up with a solution: ‘Isn’t it about time that we were given a final once and for all decision about the future of this building?’

29 December: Council announce that the building will be preserved, but no indication is made as to its proposed use. They plan to lease the old Town Hall to the Institute of Production Engineers as their headquarters, but this falls through. The building remains empty.


13 February: Battersea Community Arts Centre is listed Grade II*


May: Labour return to power and a community arts centre is proposed: studios, exhibition galleries, a pottery, a dark room, rehearsal and meeting rooms intended for use by local community and cultural groups, from theatre and musical groups to the local history society and pigeon fanciers. 1974

£109,000 was put aside to redevelop the spaces. Due to autumn


June: Works begin to convert the town hall into an arts centre


15 November: Building is re-opened as Battersea Town Hall – community centre. The Chief Executive is Mr. Brian Harris. February: Time Out publish an article questioning Wandsworth’s thinking: ‘We should be asking… why Arts Centres continue to be built or converted with no positive idea of what they are for or who will be using them… Wandsworth will launch its reconstituted Town Hall / Arts Centre – inevitably the usual problems will occur: lack of finance, lack of direction, confused thinking about why it didn’t work as any of them expected.’


215 216

Anon., They don’t talk about THEM, South Western Star, 29. 3.1968 Linton, M., Decision after eight year’s headache: £109,000 cultural centre planned for Town Hall, South Western Star, 30.10.1970 217 Anon., Nothing Too Arty, Time Out n.154, Feb 2-8 1974, p.16-17



May to November: Battersea Town Hall – community centre closes for seven months renovation work. The stud walls in the gallery are knocked down to create one large room, a bar is built in the adjacent room and the café is stripped out and reconfigured. December: Andrew Wells, chairman of North Battersea Conservative Association attacked the Council for its ‘ridiculous waste on namby-pamby art and recreation… we will cut down on unnecessary expenditure and aspects of the arts centre are unnecessary’.


Martin Linton, Chairman of the Entertainments committee and instrumental in opening the arts centre in 1974 warns: ‘If they *Tories+ get a majority in May we will see mindless acts of vandalism in the council chamber.’


May: The Tories return to power in May of 1978 and begin making moves to have the centre closed as part of a wide range of expenses cuts.


March: The council withdraw the £150,000 p.a. grant and the building closes. June: The Friends of Battersea Arts Centre is formed. A deputation from the Friends of Battersea Arts Centre address Wandsworth’s recreation committee, after which it is recommended that investigations into outside sources of funding go ahead. It is finally agreed that the arts centre will become an independent organisation with the Borough Council providing an annual grant and subsidised rent to cover running costs. The Battersea Arts Centre Trust is formed, chaired by Martin Linton. They make an application to the council for £40,633 to reopen the arts centre. They are awarded £35,000. The Council continue to run the Grand and Lower Halls as a separate enterprise.


January: The building is re-opened under the artistic directorship of Jude Kelly, with a new identity: ‘BAC’. Wandsworth Pensioner’s Talent Contest


Conversion works including: children’s cinema, pottery wheels, disabled dark room, dance studio and the café stage. Council chamber converted into the ‘main house’,


17 May: Princess Diana visits BAC to open the newly refurbished Studio One Jude Kelly leaves BAC for the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 1990 she becomes the first Artistic Director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse and in 2005 the Artistic Director of the South Bank Centre.


Timothy Ronalds Architects work on the building:

Donn, T., Clapham News, 9.12.1977


February – May: Adaptations carried out to the Council Chamber ancillary spaces to convert them into dressing rooms. April – May: Council Chamber conversion, installation of retractable seating rake.


Tony Fegan leaves BAC. In 1991 he becomes Director of Learning at LIFT


Jane Dawson, previously General Manager of BAC, becomes Director.


October: Paul Blackman becomes Artistic Director


Paul Blackman leaves BAC to become a freelance producer (for the Roundhouse, then National Youth Theatre) 1 May: Tom Morris becomes Artistic Director of BAC


£10,000 spent on improvements Small Lottery Grant for minor works and feasibility study for £5 million developments Design Competition won by Levitt Bernstein Architects. Designs drawn up for renovated Council Chamber, three new studio theatres and seating in the Grand Hall.


Receives second sum of lottery money and agrees ten-year lease with the council £60,000 spent on renovating the glass dome over the Grand Hall Foyer Plans developed for £12 million project. ACE ask BAC to come back with plans for a £2 millions project. Lottery funds are drying up. Tom Morris discovers BAC’s deficit is much larger than they thought. The Finance Manager quits and BAC is forced to go through major organisational restructuring at SMT level.


Receives £275,000 to make the building more accessible


March: BAC is accepted onto the Arts Council’s Recovery and Stabilisation Programme: ‘The Recovery programme, launched in March 1999, was for mid to large-scale arts organisations in danger of imminent insolvency. It helped organisations develop turnaround strategies, working with their key stakeholders.’

September: David Jubb comes from running the Lion and Unicorn Theatre to work at BAC as Development Producer


Beginning of Scratch Nights as part of the Ladder of Development





Wandsworth Borough Council grant increases from £126,000 to £425,065 David Jubb leaves BAC to become a freelance Producer


Appendix 4

Design walk around BAC for The Masque of the Red Death, 23 November 2006

Present: Steve Tompkins, Felix Barrett, David Jubb, Laura McDermott, later joined by Anna Martin and Rosie Hunter. We decided to record the conversation between Steve Tompkins and Felix Barrett as they walked around BAC’s building for the first time together. The idea was the capture the initial, raw impressions and gut reactions to the space and to each other’s ideas – it was thought that these would prove to be invaluable points of reference later on in the project. Steve wanted the chat to be free-flowing and not particularly guided by our agenda. He was interested in reversing the usual process of his job – an artist walking into a building that has been ‘architected’ – and having an artist led walk around BAC. * Steve’s story of a legendary party in the ruined lobby of Mr Eiffel’s mansion + S: You mentioned that the audience will be coming in together – or will they be fed in separately? F: It’ll be the same principles as Faust but with this there will probably be lots of different entrance points – so it really is a start as an individual. Like Faust where there was a scene in the basement when it finished and everyone is then led through to the bar – we’ll work on a similar principle to that – everyone surges into the great hall as one. Also – there will be a separate audience who are there purely for the great hall. That impact when you start off as an individual and then walk into the party and it’s already going on - it’s already brimming with people in hats, masks, bits of costume. The realisation that it’s bigger than you realised. But coming back to this space – I had a vision of dust, grass, creepers coming up and trees – so you really feel the size of the space and you can’t actually see down to the ground – you just get a view of a canopy. D: So you don’t get a sense of where the floor is. F: No. You know what you were saying about the wires, on this wall – if we have a wall of lights S: - Lights that just shoot F: - from floor to ceiling which is also constantly changing so they’re never static, the colour’s always revolving. S: Are we allowed fire in this building? D: Yes. F: Are we?!


D: Yeah, I mean obviously within the context of any risk assessment there have to be measures put in place… S: Because the thing I noticed about these plans is just how many fireplaces there are. F: That would be… S: It goes back to Mr Eiffel’s mansion … every room had a fireplace in it so you walk in and you’re just – F: We did this production of Woyzceck which was lit purely with candles and fire - an old barracks – there was no other light source – it was just… S: We should really go back 250 years F: …sledgehammer and torches… [laugh] F: So all these offices have fireplaces? D: Really, I don’t know – we went in search of a working fireplace quite recently for Geraldine Pilgrim’s project in the Fire of London – she wanted to use a fireplace for her piece. S: [looking at plans, counting] 8 – even though they may not be there, in fact – the flumes will still be there, so in fact – you could put a fireplace in. D: That would be great. F: That would be amazing. S: You probably only need people like your shadowy people in the background, just lurking there – watching the fire. F: Yes. It’s easy to get a chimney sorted out, isn’t it? S: Yes you just sweep it, you might have to put a chimney pot on it but that’s what’s so good about the process – then you’ve got chimneys that work and maybe you put a wood burner in – maybe in your office? D: That’s really exciting because it’s also linked to the idea of the legacies of each one of these projects – because you know one the big reasons we’re doing this – how our very first conversations started – which was about reinventing arts buildings and reinventing how they look and feel and what kind of – the idea is that each one of these projects – within the scope of the project what was a fire might become a wood burner at the end of the project and leave an artist kitchen – a staff kitchen and so on.


F: the intimacy that would come from that forever more… S: I’ve always thought that every green room should have a fireplace. Also – we were saying earlier that wouldn’t it be great if the building had a budget each year and it’s not called the maintenance budget it’s not all for building fabrics – it was just money that could be spent on BAC. If you’re intelligent and responsible enough with how it’s allocated you can use the show budget – the show decorates the building and you keep some and get rid of what you don’t want. Imagine, for example – this space to me [standing on main staircase, looking at wall of main house] – I was saying earlier – it feels like half a space – there’s a really interesting sense of – what’s going on here? What if it there was just a really badly foxed mirror the whole of these three panels so you suddenly get a sense of this fantastic, almost circular space with this enormous circular stair so you stand there and you see your distorted, faded reflection. The place I stayed in Venice last week, on the stair landing as you came down they just had this almost shrine like mirror and it was really distressed with a huge fissure down the middle so your reflection had a fuzzy black line right down the middle of your face and body it was a really eerie experience, very very strange, incredible compelling. I think in a space like this instead of those horrid corporate uplighters – just dangle a dusty lightbulb there and have some candles – maybe three of four just in front of the mirrors just flickering away – there’s an immanent trace of what is happening behind. F: Yeah – you know you get those faded mirrors with Victorian glass, and sometimes you check yourself in them, you can’t quite work out… D: They give a slightly different way of seeing… F: …what’s through it… S: …Because you see the plane of the reflection and then you see the space beyond it – it’s like looking through a gauze or something. F: Practically, the main house has to be a space that can absorb lots of people and so probably in terms of source material it will be some sort of a music hall or Parisian - some sort of old theatre with a vast list of cabaret acts, and if you can see into that… S: Exactly F: So you can’t hear anything but if you could see through it would be so lovely. S: To see through a mirror. We did some work with an artist called Dan Graham who did an exhibition at the Hayward Gallery and the thing he deals with is semi-reflective glass so you think you’re looking at a reflection but you realise you’re not. It’s a bit like that thing in with Shunt in the vault. D: This is what it reminded me of – that feeling of distress – I’m there but I can’t quite place myself. S: Because directly beyond that panel is the main window out onto the street – if you put soundproof glass in there and then put a mirror here. So you’re standing here and you see the impression of daylight on the glass, but look behind you and actually there is no daylight. There’s this sort of complicated weirdness going on.


D: Yeah that’s very interesting. S: And maybe taking a blowtorch to everything that isn’t stone and ripping out all the light fittings… F: When you say taking a blowtorch – do you mean just totally distressing it or do you mean just taking it all off. S: Maybe just scrape it all off and see how much else you want to put back. F: If we were to do something we’d probably have some kind of crackleglaze so it’s all kind of hanging off… S: Or maybe just taking some nitrise to it and see what genuine stories lie underneath. Because suddenly if you start to merge the real architecture – the permanent architecture – with the scenographics then you can choose what’s authentic and what’s not. F: Completely. S: I’m trying to figure out if this is redecorating of the mouldings or whether it’s just a paint job. D: I think it’s the mouldings. I think the paint job was… late 90’s? I think they did it at the same time as they were trying to recreate the spirit of the building – I think it was one of those heritage attempts… S: I love the idea of you coming into what really feels like the town hall and a performance happening. The whole of the trace of it being an arts centre – the idea that there had been performance here before - is sort of expunged. F: Is that a BAC pane of glass? D: I think all that was done at the time of the paint job. S: All that has to go. F: Or if we keep it we could totally deface it… S: Spray over it… F: I always find it frustrating looking up to see all those opaque squares. D: And if you look up there not the first set of windows, but the thin ones – can you see something flickering? F: Is that the fan? D: Yes – it’s totally beautiful - whenever I look up and the windows have been removed I think oh my god – it’s really exciting.


F: It would be great to put a light source up there so at points you could blast something through there so you can just see this big mechanical structure. S: I watched lots of my old Roger Corman films the other day. They are a series of Poe films – genuine B-movies. F: I was keen to talk to you about the rehearsal studio over there – it’s got loads of walls in it. S: Yes, flimsy pre-fab, arts centre pre-fab. F: You can’t really see the shape of the space – they flatten it – you can’t see the ridges. S: What are these lights – they look like flying saucers? D: Yes, again, I think these were done at the time of the re-fit – there was a point where the main house was refitted ’91 or ’92. S: I think we shouldn’t have any lights coming out of the ceiling we should just sling a cable and maybe drill some hooks and just loop the cable and just dangle builders lights or lightbulbs where they’re needed, if anything. D: I was saying to Felix earlier, artists must come in to newly refurbished buildings and think ‘What – 50 or 60 production budgets?!’ and for what – all you’ve actually done is just made it more difficult to do a piece of work. [now in the pre-fab city at the back of Studio 6] D: There’s a massive void above this whole side of the building. You know when you go up to the attic corridor, you walk along those offices – that’s all been filled and on this side of the building it basically doesn’t exist. So there’s the same on this footprint on this side. So it’s one of the unexploited spaces – above that main house dressing room. [Anna Martin and Rosie Hunter enter] Can you walk in the roof void, Anna? A: No D: Can you crawl? A: I’ve never been up there myself, I suspect you can probably crawl… S: How listed are we? All: 2 star. D: This gets more and more pre-fab the more you go round.


A: All this is a mess – all these offices are constructed – people get partition happy. D: Pre-fab heaven! S: This is interesting for you, isn’t it Felix? F: The smaller spaces are actually quite good – this is where it gets labyrinthine here. Equally – there aren’t really any big open spaces here apart from that room and the studios. And I suppose there’s the gallery. S: Have you got an accurate drawing of the building as it’s currently used? A: Yes, we’ve got some fairly recent plans. S: It would be great to get some copies – I’ve been looking at the original drawings and the drawings from when it was a council chamber. [to Felix] When you did Faust did you just work with technical structures – hanging loose wires and cables and so on? F: Yes, that’s all we had the budget and man power to do. S: [to Anna] How does your technical structure in the building work at the moment? Are you fixed permanent mains. A: All the cabling is a mix. I think they’ve been up into the roof void at points when they cabled more recently. S: If you were going to go promenade through the whole building – I guess your present technical infrastructure doesn’t stretch beyond the current performance spaces. A: No, it’d have to be rewired. S: That might be the most important part of this joint collaborative project – making the building work in all parts - so it just plugs in for sound and light. One version that I was pondering about was using the whole of the first floor as an auditorium that had partitions fireplaces and stairs within it – you could just walk up into it. It’s a prairie of existing spaces and performance spaces that’s got a technical infrastructure in there. And the roof voids and attic spaces are there too. And maybe the social and support spaces and the workshop spaces are on the ground floor. You get a sense as you come in the door that what the building wants you to do is go straight up to the first floor where all the grand rooms are. Maybe all the stuff that’s up here on the first floor just needs to drop down. And we leave this almost like a derelict building that happens to have really really good wiring in it. Reverse the polarity of the building so it just looks knackered, but it so isn’t. A: We have major issues with the wiring throughout the building. S: It’s the thing that’s just on the point of collapse, isn’t it?


A: Yes. S: There’s every reason to say we can’t carry on unless we do this. In doing this, we could either rewire, or we could think ‘What if this was a performance budget? – how could we rewire’ That seems really exciting to me. It means this all becomes a performance space. The best moment for me in Faust was at the bottom of the stairwell when there someone being dragged out. F: Yes, all the heads. S: Just to come across it – I immediately snapped back to this. And there’s the other staircase with the solid balustrade and the slightly ornate gilded bit. D: The main house staircase? [No – Steve means the staircase to the Mezz Room. We go through the ‘magic door’ to halls side. Looking out through a window towards roof void of the grand hall and glass dome] S: I was imagining we could make a door here – and make some barriers to protect the glass so you could promenade outside [on the flat roof]. I was thinking about the courtyard too. On the original drawing it’s just a clean space and it doesn’t have any of the cumulative junk in it. The way to beat the listing worries is to get it more and more back to what it was, so you’re actually turning the argument back on itself. “We’re taking out all the things that you were worried about. What you listed was the original building and that’s what we want as well”. D: Which gives you a little bit of room as well. S: Exactly – you’ve got negotiating space because you’re doing so much in their favour – on the credit side you’ve got this enormous list of removals - you can afford one or two braver things. D: Genius. A: Andrew was saying the other day about the Lower Hall and the foyer. They have a suspended ceiling down there but behind it it’s all high ceilings and moulded. There’s lovely stuff behind it if we can rip it all out. S: It’s the underworld isn’t it? – the sort of scuzzy 1960’s underworld – cloakrooms and things – it’s brilliant - it’s so melancholic. But again the possibilities of lighting could transform all these spaces. [looking over the roof again, pointing over to a door] I forget where that door does? A: It goes up to the top of the stairs to where you come into the balcony in the grand hall. S: And the attic space on this side, with that little runway – it’s got to go. F: What’s the attic over – is it the Puppet Centre? S: What’s the story with the Puppet Centre?


D: In terms of what – in terms of how we use the space? S: Is that always the Puppet Centre? D: It is at the moment but one of the ambitions of the project is to re-imagine the entire space so we’ll be having some interesting conversations with resident companies over the next six months. I think the Puppet Centre will be one of the most flexible in terms of wanting to be involved. If we can find what might be workspaces or something during the day so that people can still rehearse and stuff – and provide that flexibility, then I think that’s not going to be an issue. S: How many performers would be working simultaneously or do you imagine could be working simultaneously on different productions on a given day? D: err … 30 I guess? S: and would they be working on the same thing or different things? D: Different things, there could be anything from about four up to about seven shows rehearsing in the building at once. S: And performing? D: probably a bit less since you’ve lost the rehearsal spaces so I suppose about a dozen to 20 across the three spaces. S: So you’ve got three performances going on at the same time? And are they all preparing separately and would need to carry on doing that?` D: No, in the context of this collaboration we would look to potentially only operate one studio space independently – or semi-independently – or to-be-defined-dependently – in relation to the Poe experience. F: We’d probably have another space that was for other people making work but under the banner of the same project. One independent and one collaborative space. S: But is the idea of a performers’ preparation space for the whole building interesting or just completely unworkable? One space where people will normally prepare and dress, but maybe like in the Young Vic they’ve just got trolleys a sort of mobile actor’s world and it can be pulled around anywhere it wants and it just folds out into mirror and drawers. D: Brilliant. R: So when you say prepare do you mean dressing rooms? S: Yes, dressing rooms, showers, loos. R: That’s not necessarily unworkable.


D: No not at all. This is so many of the dreams – the idea of you working in unused buildings and us being a used building - there’s a really rich collaboration in terms of us finding greater flexibility for the used building to be able to precisely – this is my trolley – this is my dressing room – we’ll have a dressing room here. [to Felix] Which could also be interesting in terms of your development too in terms of the way your actors work. Do many of your actors change character or do they just stick all the way through? F: We never really considered performers changing characters as much as we should do but we just haven’t had the practical facilities. S: Do you know I’d love to come and have a look at that space *21 Wapping Lane+ with you one day in the daytime, maybe talk to some of the performers too and see how their experience of it is. D: That would be good, yeah – maybe that could be the same day we get Mr Accenture guy down again. S: And the licensing officers as well perhaps. S: If it was this though – and we took all this off and took all the carpet up – then this detail suddenly becomes poignant and melancholic. D: I had a relationship with one of these recently [pointing to brass door closing mechanism] S: You don’t need to go on… D: I was in Brazil at this conference and the one theatre show I got to see when I was out there was by this guy called Zee Cessou – he’s this theatre guru-god who’s been making work in Brazil for 50 years – he’s had a massive influence on Brazilian theatre (interestingly when you mention Augusto Boal nobody really knows who he is and aesthetically he’s gone – he was known in terms of his political work and his community work but aesthetically he’s gone) – everyone’s addicted to this other guy. I turned up to his theatre and it’s this incredible building – a very very tall, very very long theatre and halfway through the show I just looked up and thought ‘fuck – that’s the sky!’ – it didn’t have a ceiling – and then it started raining and the ceiling slid back over… S: Really? D: Yeah but that makes it sound very kind of hi-tech but the building was fucked, everything was just about to fall to pieces. The scaff all round the edge which the audience were seated on 4 different rows. When I arrived the theatre doors – they were these enormous great things – when I arrived there was this enormous rumble behind them and the doors just burst out and 40 pwerformers just burst out, some of them riding 6ft canons and ran into the street and ran down the street – it was incredible. The door burst open and one of these things [brass door closer] flew off. This little guy just came up to me and started shouting in Portuguese – I realised he was really short and he wanted me to fix it. I suddenly felt this amazing connection to the building – this extraordinary experience – I felt so part of it. Partly because it didn’t work – partly because you had to help them - you were party to it. S: That’s so interesting isn’t it? Unless you feel empathy with the building – if you feel like you’re


superfluous, like it’s better off without you, then… D: Yeah… S: Just get out of the fucking building please? You’re spoiling it! [downstairs into halls side, pondering if there is a skylight to match the window above main staircase that had been covered over] S: You know those old Roman bath houses with vaulted ceilings and archways and stone masonry, with shafts of natural light that just come piercing through – looking at that I got a real sense of what could happen in this building. It’s like you need to do exactly what English heritage want but you just stop 80% of the way through, before you’ve finished. You haven’t done anything, you haven’t broken the rules. You’ve scraped it back, you’ve skipped loads of junk – maybe you’ve taken out all the light fittings - and you’ve put back an infrastructure that is much more intelligent. Then - I don’t know if this is right, but maybe - the whole of the first floor is just a deck of performance space that can be lots of different things in the daytime and it can just be a zone for performance at the night. Maybe there’s a big room-sized goods lift that maybe 50 people could get into and think they are in a room – and the door shuts – but it’s so slow you don’t realise you’re going anywhere, and the door opens again and they’re somewhere else. Just finding ways of mucking around with people’s understanding and orientation. It will be inherently flexible – plug a light in – decide to move it and plug it in somewhere else. The main thing is that the look and feel of it just grows out of successive performances, which all leave their traces on the building. 
 Wrapping up the meeting – we noticed that there had been some brilliant parallel points and uncanny common ambitions with Steve and Felix’s respective reactions to the building. A lot of the suggestions or ideas we have come up with in this conversation are quite simple, but they are brave. As a one-off expense they will be expensive, but there will be a seismic shift in the way the building operates. 


Appendix 5 Interview with Axel Burrough, Battersea Arts Centre, 8 June 2009

Cassette 1 SIDE A [Looking at drawings of BAC] Allegra: Firstly, are these your drawings? Axel Burrough: No. these are mostly Bethan Davis’ drawings mostly. She was working with me on it. AG: I sort of divided these into the different areas I wanted to talk about and I think these are about the centre of the building. Also the main courtyard area, and this was the central studio. AB: Well that was a different scheme. AG: That was what I was going to ask. AB: That was earlier, if I remember rightly. AG: If I ask my questions, then maybe it will come in order. AB: What are Haworth Tompkins doing here? Have they got big plans? AG: [short explanation of Playgrounding: architectural process stretched over a long period of time, keeping the building open, working in small chunks rather than a large project]. In looking at these plans and talking to Tom (Morris) I have realised that some of them are very similar in terms of plans to improve flow through the building and visibility into the front of the building and improve the technology throughout the building. But also wanting to do it mainly through working with artists. For instance Steve talked quite a lot with Felix Barrett (Artistic Director of Punchdrunk) while they were making The Masque of the Red Death, enabling that show to happen in the building then had an effect on the plans for different spaces. We can walk around in a bit and we can talk about them. Can I ask you a bit about when you first came into BAC? I suppose I wanted to know about… when I first talked to Tom (Morris) he talked about a few initial reactions to the building. I asked him how the relationship with Levitt Bernstein began and he said that they held a competition and that you submitted a design. I was wondering if you could remember your initial thoughts about the building, when you first walked in. AB: Uh, I can’t remember, actually. I do remember where the interview took place. It took place in the art gallery up there. What I remember, the things I remember most were the sort of practical things. For instance the complete inability of anybody to be able to use the Grand Hall satisfactorily. Because it just didn’t fit in with the front of the building at all and so hence the whole building operated quite intensively at the front here but it didn’t operate intensively at the back which is where a huge amount of the space was. It just means that as a large building complex it was completely dysfunctional from that point of view. It’s a wonderful old building really, a really grand building, not designed as a performing building obviously in the first place, but it is a fine building. And a lot of the things they had done in order to make it work for particularly the performing arts had


actually denied the building. Like for instance the main hall, the old council chamber, where you go in and you don’t realise, the old room has been sort of *AG: disappeared+ well, tried to make it feel that it isn’t there anymore, almost like an embarrassment. And the other little performance space, down there on the left hand side. AG: Studio 1 AB: Is it still there? AG: Yes AB: That was a very, very tricky space, shoehorned into a corner and hard to run as the relationship of the dressing rooms to the stage, how the audience got in and things like that, functional problems. And what one wanted to do was try to find ways of using the building which more naturally worked with the building rather than against it. And so that is the kind of approach we were looking at. Now just remember we were looking at the main space, the main auditorium, of completely reconfiguring it by opening it up as a big room again and having a big very simple bench bleacher seating in it. Steep banks of seating that people would sit on the steps rather than on chairs and make it into a space which was much more like a found space, but that was dependant on us having somewhere else in the building. Somewhere that could operate like a more conventional way, with a stage, with seats facing the stage. Hence we had this idea of breaking into the courtyard. The courtyard was the link between the front and the back and to enable us to do something which could actually take the pressure off the existing spaces. We were thinking about it from quite a functional point of view really, to make best use of the building. AG: So just so I know, when you went into that space, when you first saw it. It was black box with a rake in it. A permanent rake or a retractable rake? AB: I think it was a permanent rake. What is it now? AG: It is a retractable rake now, so possibly it was retractable then… AB: But never retracted. Maybe they never bothered to retract it. Certainly whenever I saw it, it was always configured as an end stage. AG: So one of the things I don’t really understand about the plans, timing wise, perhaps because they were different schemes, some of these I saw at the centre of the building an open, green café, people walking around sort of area, and then in others I see this where you have the central studio. And I am just wondering at what point… which came first, when that changed? AB: My memory is that this one…*looks at plans+…yes these two diagrams, these were earlier [reference to the Theatre Projects diagrams], not very much earlier but they were earlier. A more, fairly conventional gallery and studio theatre space, rectangular in form. But also the thing about this was that it was going to have glazed walls so instead of completely filling up the courtyard you would actually be able to see through the building and into the building. So the activity in here, when you wanted it to be visible it could be visible. These are all curtains you see, between the layers of glass. And so rather than forming yet another complete barrier in the building, because you have got the main stairs and then you have got a wall which is a barrier between the front and the back of the


building. You have got something which was actually, which could be transparent if you wanted it to be. So the activity in this space could be visible to people in the building and so that was that one. I can’t remember the reason why but we moved away from that to a rather smaller type of auditorium, which was this one, which gave us more space for activity in the centre of the building and so the idea of that was that people would permeate this wall here and actually lots of activities could take place around this central studio. So it became a hub of activity in the building. And as I said, building that would take pressure off the main house. AG: so this [main house] could become a more open space. AB: exactly AG: and that would be the black box studio. So would that have then been the courtyard still? AB: that’s right AG: and that would have been open space, glassed over… AB: And these walls were broken out so you could actually filter through into that courtyard and then also filter through the courtyard space to the back of the building where the Grand hall is. It is a way of linking this octagonal space which is the original foyer space for the Grand Hall to the front of the building. AG: so for instance here, just so I understand the plans, what would be in these gaps here? AB: Well we were trying to open up the front side as well because it provides a very closed aspect to the street. AG: I like this terrace with people on it. AB: Raise up the terrace and put a bar at the front so you could actually sit out on the street and you could at least see activity in the building, and put the bookshop in this corner. It was crucial, because if you are in the café at the moment sitting down the level of the sills is virtually above your eye level and that seemed to be wrong to us. I mean whether we would have got this through planning is another matter. The idea was to make it much more permeable at the front of the building and much more permeable in the middle of the building whilst retaining all the main architectural features. Its not about taking anything out it is just a matter of taking an arch, like the arch behind us [underneath the main staircase] at the bottom of the stairs and punching through it. The arch would still be there so we weren’t actually destroying the original architecture. We were just manipulating it. AG: so these would have had, these gaps, would these have been glass infill? AB: the drawings give the impression of permeability. Whether they would actually have been windows or doors… that is tomorrow’s decision. AG: and here [east and west front corridors], again, the idea would have been to keep the corridors open?


AB: Open the sides of the corridors that is right [onto the courtyard]. AG: and whether that would have been by glass walls or windows or whatever that is… AB: yes. AG: just so I understand the order properly…. These plans show this wonderful garden in the centre of the building. A few different versions. Where I am assuming then later, or before?, the studio theatre was planned. I am just wondering which came first in terms of the plans for the centre of the building. AB: these were some time before [ref. To the garden plans]. It was all mixed up with lottery money. The whole basis of the scheme was mixed up with whether lottery money would become available or not. And the ambitions schemes were sort of a response to the ambitions of the people providing lottery money. Did you ask Tom about this? I think his attitude changed depending on the politics of the relationship between him and his landlord, whether they would help to provide enough crosssubsidy… the extent to which we increased our ambitions. What he really wanted, he really wanted another performance space and these schemes, with garden in the middle, was a nice way of dealing with the building because it provided something else in the building which it hasn’t got at the moment. Because if you look at that courtyard space its probably just as grotty as it was then, so this would have been a very nice thing to do. But it didn’t provide much in the way of additional performing areas or variety. I think what he wanted was to be able to have a greater variety of spaces of performance. The trouble was what he had at the moment, then, were very little rooms, very inflexible, because the doors were in the wrong place, the relationship to the dressing rooms, all those sorts of things, the height, everything made them not flexible but restricted. And as I said about the main, the conversion of the council chamber, it was fundamentally just an end-stage room, and what he wanted was more informal spaces. And so one way of doing that would be to create an informal garden in the middle of the building which you could use for performance and the other was to create a performance space which was more purpose-built, so that it did things better. It was properly equipped, people faced the right way and were in comfortable seats and all that sort of thing, which took the pressure off the rest of the building so you could colonize the other parts of the building in a more informal way. It was this idea of colonization that we were keen to talk to him about. When we did the Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester basically it was this huge, great, inflexible old trading hall and we designed a building within it which was a bit like an act of piracy. It was taking over the space, which was almost an unwilling host, the main space. But it could take it because it was so big. And so there was a tremendous tension between the new space within this huge great hall and the old space. And that was part of the excitement – the tension. And of course it was designed in a way that made it look as if it could be taken away at any day, it was camping in effect. So we were trying to pursue this idea of people being able to camp in spaces in the building, but that depended on having somewhere in the building that was well-equipped for the more conventional things. Most productions, touring productions, need a conventional space and that’s a fact. AG: In terms of reflecting what you did at Manchester Exchange, with this central studio, Tom mentioned that at one point it was quite tall… AB: This was a taller space yes. It was accentuated by these external stairs, ramps going up the outside of it.


AG: And what would it have been clad in? What were the materials? AB: We hadn’t got that far. It was going to be a very solid, geometric form. That was the idea. AG: I suppose I imagine that looking like a space ship, landing in the middle of the building. That being the thing that looked almost alien to the space… AB: This glass box [reference to earlier Theatre Projects plans for central studio] would have been a more alien intrusion. That was the reason why it was transparent because the idea was it didn’t actually block off the rest of the building. But the proportions of the other one were such that it was actually smaller in the space than the overall court, the overall central area… this is going down memory lane! AG: I am quite interested in that sense of piracy of the space. You talk here about affirmation or denial of the existing character of the building and that by creating something that was so completely a studio space, very high-tech, you could then behave more flexibly towards the rest of the building… The idea of creating a folly within a folly, is that a reference to the central studio? AB: hmm. Yes. [reading the document] ah yes, the piracy thing is mentioned here. AG: I suppose the idea of being in a space that wasn’t intended as a theatre space to start with is quite important starting point in thinking about where you go with the building. AB: Well its always a dilemma because I think there is a tendency towards greater homogenisation in theatre spaces actually in this country. And one of the most interesting things about theatre design in th Britain in the second half o the 20 century was a result of a relatively well-funded repertory theatre movement. People, theatre companies owning their own theatres. If you own your own theatre you can have whatever theatre you want because you are designing for it and you are producing for it, you are choosing the plays for it, everything is done for your own theatre space and as a result it can be unconventional because it’s yours. Whereas if you are running a theatre space which is reliant on product that is brought in from other places in the country it almost inevitably has to conform to the lowest common denominator because the things which fit other spaces have got to fit your space. Put it the other way round, one of the problems the royal exchange theatre in Manchester always had is transferring to London. It has never been able to transfer to London the shows without completely for the London stages. The only time when they could dot hat was when they built a similar sort of stage in the Roundhouse in the 80’s I suppose it was, or 90’s. Or brought their temporary theatre down. So they have always had a real problem. That is symptomatic, because they can do what they want in their own theatre. So BAC does both, it brings people in to do things but it also produces things of its own, so it needs the unconventional spaces in which it can do unconventional things in the way it wants to do it, but it also need the relatively more conventional spaces. This is how we thought about it. In a way these are things which are too conventional but not operating very well in a conventional way, it was neither one thing nor the other, it was totally unsatisfactory. Do you understand? So this is the freedom you are given [referencing the central studio]. You are given the freedom by providing something that is a good box of tricks. You are given the freedom to actually appropriate the other spaces in the way that you want. Which is what this building should be about because it is almost like the arts centre is a tenant in the building, the building wasn’t built for it. It should be transforming the building in lots of different ways. And it always has. It has had major art works in this foyer. It has had interesting productions taking up the whole building. And that sort of lightness, that sort of inventiveness, lightness on one’s feet, is crucial. And so that is what we were


trying to find a way of doing - a loosening up of the spaces so that people could use their imaginations in the way that they use them. AG: It does come back to that question that I keep running up against in most of the spaces I am looking at: the tension between whether you build something specific or something that is flexible and that a lot of people can use. I suppose that, quite a few spaces in BAC have suffered from a lack of brilliant technology and that need to be multi –purpose. AB: one of the great inventions of the latter part of the 20 century was the studio theatre, or the courtyard theatre I should say. The first one was probably the Cottesloe at the National, but that wasn’t initially very flexible, or designed as a flexible space, but of course the National have huge resources so they can rip seats apart and put them back in different ways if they want to. And then the next one was the one we did at ?? which was the Wilde Theatre, which was much more adaptable, it was designed to take product: could be dance, could be music theatre, could be smallscale opera, could be converted into a small concert hall and it could do drama. And in an extreme version the flat floor could take a craft fair or something like that for the two weeks before Christmas. So that is a truly adaptable space. And there have been lots of others in that model which have been built since. But I think most people who run spaces like that find a difficulty in programming them because even if they are very, very easy to change around you still have t re-rig all the lights, for instance. Total flexibility is a complete mirage. It is much better to start with something that works extremely well for its purpose 90% of the time and try to make it more versatile. Otherwise you end up with the space that is capable at everything but good at nothing. Cassette 1 SIDE B AG: *whilst changing the cassette, asks about the idea of ‘affirmation and denial’ of the existing building] AB: Taking an existing building which has a hugely powerful character, acknowledging that character, but being prepared to subvert it as well. Rather than just being totally in awe of it. It needed a good shake-up. AG: Rather than just painstaking… AB: Not being too precious about it basically. But everybody can appreciate the beauty of this building in their own way, and you don’t want to deny that. AG: When you were working on the Manchester Exchange and you say that it looked like it had sort of ‘arrived’ in the space but could be taken out any day, a sort of alien object within that building. I read the famous article Michael Elliot wrote about it ‘On not building for posterity’ and… AB: Well, ‘On not building for posterity’, that was 1973 and the theatre wasn’t open until 1976. AG: I sort of the thought the ideas were about… AB: It was absolutely, completely pertinent to the construction of the building. It said something like ‘when I was standing on the Waterloo Bridge looking at the concrete of the National Theatre appearing out of the ground, Is this the sort of the thing we should be doing now?’ Something like that. Because you see their attitude was, we are a group of people and we don’t want to work in


proscenium theatres. Anybody who wants to work in a proscenium theatre can. There are lots of them around. We are not going to deny them that opportunity by building something which we want to work in. That was their attitude. But of course they needed to be a producing theatre to do that. They needed the freedom to have a space of their own. That is my point you see. And it would be the same with the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester and a number of others. Lots of other theatres… the Sheffield Crucible which is a thrust stage, very unconventional for its time, but it was a producing company. AG: Or the Stephen Joseph. I went to see a theatre in November in São Paulo called Teatro Oficina. AB: That is Lina Bo Bardi isn’t it? AG: Yes. And there you get an artist who says ‘this is the kind of theatre I want to make and this is the kind of space I need for it’ and the architect coming alongside. I read some of the plans and you get some that say things like ‘walkway, not recommended by the architect’ in brackets. So she has drawn it on the plans because Ze Celso has said ‘I want it to be like this’. She has said ‘well, I will put it on but I don’t think…’ AB: That is extraordinary, I didn’t realise… because it is a rather extraordinary… it’s s street really isn’t it? When was that, 80’s? AG: I am still trying to piece it together because my Portuguese is really bad. AB: I think it was round about the 80’s. AG: It was ’83 they started working on it and didn’t finish until 1993 and Lina Bo Bardi died in 1992. And they didn’t actually do all that she planned to do. They built the front part but she had planned a whole stadium theatre at the back. AB: Yes, I have heard about that. I wondered how that fitted into the whole. AG: Yes, I have just been trying to piece together the chronology of it. And because everything on the website is written from… they are very present people. So even the chronology is written almost in the present tense, but you don’t really know when the present was that they were writing the chronology in. Makes it a bit complicated to back. So it is a sort of incomplete version of what she fully intended for the space, she meant to build almost like a passageway, a parade, the idea of carnival. And now it finishes, it has a solid wall at the back. But I think they have plans to change that. But there is a theatre with an artist at the heart of it, deciding what kind of space they want to work in. AB: I have never been there but the photographs I have seen make it look like it intended to look like something which is completely found, not intentional at all. Which is another very interesting thing. Because Peter Brooke has a very similar attitude in a way: the staid and conventional is a killer. AG: I feel like he goes in and delicately re-creates a sense of history in a space almost. AB: But he talks about dirty spaces doesn’t he and about them being more exciting and I think that is absolutely true.


AG: I think a space like the Curve in Leicester, haven’t been to see that yet but I am interested to see how that works, because I think there was a woman advising on that project who, as far as I understood, a lot of the drive for it came from her because she wanted to make something that allowed for procession. Because I think a lot of the theatrical culture in Leicester is based on… AB: One of these Artistic Directors you mean AG: Yes, I can’t remember her name AB: No, can’t remember AG: But she was the artistic drive but I think she left just before the project ended, so it would be interesting to see now they have a space built for that, if they will actually find people to make work for it. AB: I am sure they will be writing their own history. I was actually involved in the feasibility studies of that theatre when this idea of what they call an ‘inside out theatre’ was first mooted. And she wasn’t around in any of those meetings, funnily enough, but I am sure she did have a lot of input. But I think it was partially, to tell you the truth, no, that is the wrong thing to say ‘to tell you the truth’… I have a suspicion that it was partially to do with me, you know, that whole idea. Because I was, they were wondering what sort of… that very point I made to you about producing theatres is that they can do something unconventional. I was saying I thought that what audiences were less interested in these days was the total separation of the audience’s world from the actor’s world and that they find the process of putting productions on an interesting thing and I gave three examples of it. One was the Royal Exchange. You can go into that hall while having a fit up or a rehearsal and you know something is going on, ok, so you are not sitting in a seat watching maybe, but you go in and realise that this is a sort of factory for theatre. As well as a performances space. And it just makes it a much more interesting process. You go into have a cup of coffee there and something is going on in the main hall, you see the odd actor wandering around and things like that. And then I have been to Gothenburg. This is quite a superficial point but at Gothenburg they have got this opera house in the dock and as you walk around the opera house there is this huge great plate glass window into the scenery workshop, so you can actually watch people making the scenery. It’s a very simple point. But why not? They can always draw a curtain. So those are two of them. I can’t remember what the third was. And they sort of picked up on this and said well, Leicester has a tradition of being a great producing town, that is what it’s history has been based on. So why don’t we make this a producing theatre…*a couple inaudible words+ so that people realise that theatre is being produced here? And not just going to see the productions. And that was kind of the origin of that process. So this whole business of what you are talking about, which is processions, that came after my involvement. But certainly that is very interesting because there is a huge Asian population there of course whose theatre is very different. AG: I think that is what they were thinking of accommodating. I suppose what I am interested in is that Tom Morris’ response to wanting to treat the spaces flexibly but still being able to accommodate for the production that come in to BAC, was to create more spaces, so more possibilities of different types of space to work in. I think that is what I didn’t manage to understand when I talked to Tom was this: if you just create more types of spaces, that gives you more flexibility for what you do with some of them, so they don’t all have to be black box spaces. Because he was talking about how it has to come from the artist. You have got to have the kind of space where an artist wants to work. And if


you as a producer are saying ‘I think this would be a good idea for this space’ you are already leaning on a bad elbow because you are not the person who is actually make the work in there. And he talked about how at the National you have a Pros arch, amphitheatre and the Cottesloe and they all go in and out of fashion. But it gives the artists options. And I suppose BAC is in a reasonably unique position in that it does have a lot of space, but at the same time is the answer to that need for flexibility or to accommodate for artists just to create endless new types of spaces as different things become ‘they way the artist wants to work’. I don’t know. what is your response to that… AB: Well, think of it in a slightly different way. Think of this building, which has always been underfunded, whatever they have done. This is an old council building that has got spaces which are suitable for when it was built 100 years ago and BAC has been, because they couldn’t think of anything else to do with this old building which is no longer any good for the uses of the council, who probably built swanky new offices down the road, they handed it on to the arts. Saying ‘here see what you can do with this’. So it was always a struggle. I mean they are very grateful for having space, obviously, but it is always and uphill struggle to cope in a building which isn’t designed specifically for what you want to do. Along comes the lottery money and you have got to remember, 1994 lottery act, so between 1995 and about 1998 or 1999 there was a very, incredibly small period in history which was they heyday of the Arts Council lottery funding when they were able to fund ambitious projects and so this was an opportunity that had never occurred before and has never occurred again, to actually make the building which they had inherited more fit for purpose. And so you have to think about the whole thought process in those terms. So you look at the spaces, and we are back to where we were before, you say ‘well they have done their best here’ but its not good enough. So how can we make these spaces work better. Well, the council chamber really is a rather unfortunate mash up, maybe you say, and it has got beautiful windows with a beautiful view out but you can’t see it. There are a lot of things about that room that could be better used. So you take the pressure off that room by providing something which is possibly more conventional but is actually built fit for purpose and to current standards somewhere else in the building. I think none of these drawings show conventional spaces but on the other hand they are well-equipped for what they are supposed to be doing. So that was the thought process. So actually it is a response to a particular, very, very small period of time. Looking back on it. AG: Definitely. Can I just check if I have anything I haven’t asked and then maybe we could walk around the building for a few minutes? AB: Sure. And also probably, the way they are thinking about it now, in a sort of incremental fashion, is also a function of the time that we are in at the moment. AG: Absolutely. A very different financial climate where the Arts Council come up with small packets of money over the course of a few years. AB: Exactly. AG: I think we talked about most of the things… Oh, apart from you explaining maths to me! I was going to ask about Bury St. Edmunds. AB: That was a very different project. How can I start this? Theatre Projects, these theatre consultants, there is somebody who used to work with them, he is retired now, called Iain Mackintosh. He was always interested in proportional, in the proportion of one part of a theatre building to another. He felt that there was something which was inherently right about the proportion of stages to auditorium for instance. So he would always try to build in some sort of


proportional system to the designs Theatre Projects were involved in. Coincidentally we did this design study with Theatre Projects for the Theatre Royal in 1997, 1987/88, even earlier. I was trying work out some very practical things about the theatre, about the original design. Like, where was the stage front originally? And so I try to put myself in the mind of the architect. The architect was William Wilkins who was a Maths don at Caius college until he married. So he graduated 5 wrangler th (sp?), so 5 best mathematician in his year at Cambridge. But he had also done the Grand Tour. So he had been and measure Greek temples and all that sort of stuff. He had written about proportion. So he was obviously, if one put himself in his mind… if I am given a blank sheet of paper and I am starting to design a theatre and I have the implements you used to design buildings in those days, which were a T-square and set –square and dividers and compasses. How do I go about it? All these proportion systems, which I discovered he had employed in that theatre are very easy to create geometrically using compasses and dividers. But also they are interesting mathematically, in the history of mathematics because they work geometrically but they don’t work mathematically because if you take a square and the sides are one, the diagonal is not 2 or 3 or 6 1.5. It is 1.444 recurring. So it is not a proper number, it is an incommensurable number. I think that they always, throughout the history of mathematics, they could not work out… there must be a secret to beauty, which isn’t immediately obvious. Because we have all these incommensurable numbers and they produce these very clear geometrical forms. And then you have another strand where, for instance, something like the Fibernachi sequence is invented which is a series of numbers, each of which is the product of the addition of the two previous numbers. So it goes 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 and so on. So a very simple series of numbers. But what is so extraordinary about it is that the relationship between 5 and 8 and 8 and 13 and 13 and 21 is always about 1.616. which is the golden number. It is coincidence but it is always that. So it is not surprising that people used to think ‘there is something magic here’. These relationships, which you can create geometrically as well, there must some eternal beauty must be th built into this in some way. Not only that but the 12 number in the Fibernachi sequence is 144 which is 12x12… how amazing! Now a really good mathematician would be able to explain why that was perfectly obvious, but to lesser minds it seems like an extraordinarily wonderful fluke. In Renaissance times when architects once again became particularly interested in proportion, early renaissance architecture was a trade not a profession, it wasn’t an art. The arts were geometry, mathematics, astrology and music. Painting and architecture were not arts. As these professions elevated themselves to the position of artists, they added theory to what they were doing. And the theory came from the other arts, it came from music, musical proportions. It is all a search for universal beauty. But what interested me was that it was also based on something incredibly practical which is, what do you do when you have got compasses and dividers and a pencil in your hand? AG: And so by mapping that onto a sheet of paper you established the original dimensions of… AB: Exactly. If you have a square of which the sides are one, the diagonal is root 2. So when you talk about root 2, that is how it is arrived at. And so the relationship between the inside face of the galleries at Theatre Royal and the outer side of the galleries, is a root 2 relationship. He would have drawn a square, got his compasses, drawn a circle, taken the diagonal and drawn another circle and that would have been the outer and the inner set up. And they used to do this – that was how cloisters in old cathedrals are often set up. AG: And do you agree with Iain that it makes for a better theatre space?


AB: No, I am a sceptic I have to say, from that point of view. But I think it is a perfectly justifiable and plausible way for designing buildings. Everyone needs some way of deciding what to do. I think it is very valid from that point of view. AG: hmm…thank you! The other thing I think is interesting about that space, after leaving Cambridge I trained as a director and I assistant directed on a play at Theatre Royal. So I spent quite a lot of time sitting in that auditorium and I did always think… it is so lovely. AB: Have you been there since it was restored? AG: I was there in 2005. AB: Oh we have done a fantastic job on it since, it opened again in 2008. [some confusion ensues over dates] AG: One thing I always thought was that it must have felt quite different when they could fit so many more people inside it. AB: Ah, well that makes all the difference in the world. That is the other problem that we have nowadays. The whole live theatre is very dependent on its audience, without an audience there is no point in it and the audience is reaction is very important to it. And they fewer the people, the more difficult it is to get a very good audience reaction. As time has gone by, for various reasons, it has got more and more difficult to get as many people as close to the actor as they used to in the olden days. And that is a huge dilemma that we all face. There have been some huge mistakes where people have gone the wrong direction. But more and more theatres try very, very hard to solve this intimacy problem. One way is the Royal Exchange theatre, in the round, the fourth side has people so that gets you many, many more people and that is astonishingly intimate from that point of view. But if you take something like the Theatre Royal in Bury, designed for 780 people, it only has 350 now. Exactly the same size it ever was. But people have got bigger. I read recently that Norwegians are getting taller at the rate of 25mm every generation. And I think a lot of Americans are getting broader at the same rate! And then there is the fire officer, means of escape and all the things we didn’t use to worry about in the old days, which just make it far more difficult to get a lot of people close to a stage. That is the killer. AG: And to each other AB: And to each other. And there is the business also of people not wanting to be so close to each other. It is a real problem and one of the biggest dilemmas for people in the theatre to try to generate that tremendous intimacy whilst getting the big numbers in. if you look at the way in which the Georgian theatre developed into the Victorian, or late Victorian theatre, the theatre of Matcham, you will see that the Georgian theatre model with its shallow balconies, with the invention of the cantilever, developed into theatres with very, very deep balconies and huge great ranks of seats. What Matcham and his ilk were trying to do was create that room at the front equivalent to the size of the Georgian rooms, just that it extended further back. So you had a few people that had that same experience, shared the room, but actually they got the numbers in by adding huge numbers of people who were in those nether regions of the theatre. He solved the problem. Of course by that point the actor had gone behind the proscenium as well which meant there was more space for the


audience in front of the proscenium. But ever since then we have been trying to recapture the lost space. AG: And do you think that it is possible, given the advancements in our health and safety regulations? AB: I can’t see how it will, we are all doing our best, but I just can’t see how… geometrically impossible to make up the lost ground really. AG: it was interesting walking around theatre spaces… Steve Tompkins also went on this trip to Brazil, and seeing it from an architects point of view, who knows the regulations… I don’t, so I just look at something and think ‘this is so wonderful, why don’t we build like that?’, and obviously a certain amount of pain from Steve knowing that he is not allowed to, he would never be allowed to do half the things that we saw, because of regulations. He would never be allowed to build that staircase without a break in the middle or have that many seats without an aisle this wide.. AB: So you went to Brazil? AG: In November, yes. It was amazing. [Short discussion of how Teatro Oficina visit came about, researching Teatro Oficina, organising the trip with British Council] Cassette 2 SIDE A *Walking around the space, sound quality very poor, mostly AG giving a ‘tour’+ Cassette 2 SIDE B AB: The Icon gallery puts on only the work of contemporary artists, a lot of that work is challenging to the average man in the street. The gallery that they had before had a picture window into the gallery space so if you walked by you saw the art and thought ‘I’m not going in there’. So when we planned the new gallery, the shop and the gallery were at the front. So they would go in and they might see the gallery and think ‘why not?’ but it got them across the threshold. Then they found this friendly place where people were prepared to talk to them and there was a little bit of art and there was some inducement to go a bit further. So it got them into the building it got the interested and maybe not everyone, you can’t win them all but maybe a few people found it less alienating and that is incredibly important. That is what we were talking about in those conversations about the front of the building. The front of the building, you take away that closedness, you open it up a bit, you put activities there, not threatening in any way, just normal activities and you find that people of a greater variety will start using the building in a more natural way. That’s the first step. AG: I’m going to a conference tomorrow, Theatre Trust…*Experiencing Theatres+


Appendix 6 Interview with Jude Kelly, South Bank Centre, 9 July 2009

Jude Kelly is currently Artistic Director of the South Bank Centre. She was the founder Artistic Director of BAC from 1980 and undertook a significant amount of conversion work on the building. She left BAC in 1985 to become the Artistic Director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Allegra – So the questions I have for you are most going to be historical because there is not a huge amount left from the period when you were at BAC except for board papers and a few bits and pieces. So my first question is how did you arrive…how did you come to get the job at BAC and what attracted to you it in the first place? Jude – Well it was advertised as the Founder Artistic Director of the Battersea Arts Centre which was going to be a new independent charitable trust. And I was then Artistic Director of Solent People’s Theatre which was a touring community company. And all my career has been about place and how you give place meaning through arts. So I was interested, I sent away for the plans because it was about community revitalisation and when I got the plans and I realised how big the place was, how big and sprawling, I was fascinated. I went on the bus from Piccadilly because I had a meeting at the Arts Council, a number 19 bus I think from Piccadilly to Battersea and realised that as you were travelling on the bus the opportunity and poverty levels changed dramatically. So that the circumstances of Battersea were much more degraded than the circumstances of Piccadilly, obviously, but I mean so markedly and I though this is appalling. They showed me round Battersea and it was completely deserted and covered in dust. It had been an arts centre run by the local authority and then the Tories came in and they shut it down. And then there was a massive community campaign to keep it reopen it. And that’s when there was a decision to establish an independent trust. When I went through the doors it was like the Marie Celeste because you could feel it was a place that had had life but had no life any longer. And the most important space for me, well there were two most important spaces, one was the place that was the café because you could feel that with the right love and care it could be a just wonderful centre for artists and communities to meet. And the second was the Chamber which again like great places they contain their histories so this history of a democratic space in which debate was held about the future of that community in Battersea, I loved the resonance of a place like that. So I instantly thought yes I’ll do this, hoping I’ll get the job offered to me, because I felt I could populate it with ideas and that it was a natural place for community and artists to come together because I think a lot of these places have former histories, if you take the best quality of what their former history was you can carry on pursuing, within a slightly different frame, I suppose essentially what you would call democratic purpose or certainly the idea of congregation. And so then I got the job. I then looked at the building as a series of spaces that could have enormous flexibility and possibility and I created the bookshop, a really good bookshop, on the right hand side as you go in, it was a wonderful bookshop because there was no bookshop in the area at all. The café which was thriving and made the café have a cabaret space as well. So we always had jazz and late night comedy. A – Did you build that stage? J – Yes. I built the disabled darkroom, don’t know that’s probably not still there? A – Upstairs?


J – No, it was next to box office. A – No that’s not still there. J – It was a really important scheme for people with a disability to do photography. We won an award for disability because I built all the ramps and everything to do with making the space…the disabled lift, that was all to do with the year of the disabled. I turned the downstairs space on the left had side in to another studio space. And through the doors on the right hand side in to a cinema. And we had children’s cinema and adult’s cinema, it was really thriving. Then the downstairs pottery we had three potters in residence. I don’t know whether they still do have any of those things? A – Some of them, the studio theatre. Not the pottery. I think they went when Paul Blackman came. J – Shame. We had three potters in there, pottery classes, ceramics, ceramic artists. And I extended that to make them artist residency spaces. Then upstairs we built the bar which wasn’t there before because it was all just gallery before which A – Was that all one big space then? Or was it subdivided? J – It was subdivided. Then there was the main chamber which when I was there I converted gradually in to a raked space. A – So when you arrived did it have the old Council seating in it? J – Yes. A – And then you put a retractable rake in? J – Is it retractable now? A – Yes. J – Yes I think I put that in. And then there was the Puppet Centre and then you went upstairs and we had silk screen artists, graphic artists… A – So a huge variety J – Very mixed artform which is what I love, wasn’t just theatre. For example, the studio on the left hand side we strong committed to dance. And then when I was there I also tried to, I drew up, I drew up plans as well… A – Did you? J – To turn the back halls in to a used space with an atrium and everything. A – Because they at that time were still being run by the Council and you were running… J - …there was a huge row…they were very unsupportive


A - ..were they doing anything with them? J – No they had wrestling, occasionally, boxing, it was really underused. And I really wanted to use it. So I had these plans drawn up which included an atrium, they must be somewhere. It was politically a real problem. The woman who was then the arts officer for Wandsworth felt I was going to do her out of a job so she really fought a campaign to make sure it couldn’t happen. And part of the business plan for investment would have been made so much easier with a much bigger space. And you could have made a much bigger impression in terms of celebration. We did this big outdoor festival on Mayday every year all the way down the side of the building, stalls and stages and everything, so as much as we could we did use the outside as well. But it was limited. A – And also, in terms of the activity you want to do, a sense of division between…that’s a huge part of the building’s performative history and sense of occasion… J – But it was sort of dormant most of the time so it was great when Tom, no it wasn’t Tom, David, got Punchdrunk to do…that worked.. A – Got it opened up J – But I think that, it’s a long time since I was there, 1985 I left, a long time. A - But you had your own theatre company there. The New Theatre Company? J – That was towards the end. A – And what was that about? J – That was about creating very ordinary local community based theatre, that really ordinary very very local people could come to because they felt it was there’s. And the kind of audiences that came to it were very different from those who might come to a touring fringe theatre show. Of course we got local audiences but local audiences from all different kinds of backgrounds. The working class black and white audiences didn’t feel automatically bound in to fringe theatre at all. We did this show called Southside which had hip hop dancers and beat boxers that was in 1983 so it was really innovative. With local dancers. There weren’t that many mixed race cast shows at that time either. We did Aladdin as well, a pantomime. It was quite popular work a bit like Hackney Empire’s pantomime. A – Do you think that the things that you started at Battersea in terms of community building around a space that you took that to West Yorkshire Playhouse, Royal Festival Hall, I mean you keep doing it… J – Yes, that’s what my work is, that’s what I believe is, as an artist, I think my art is about making this relationship between space, memory and community. A – What do you mean by memory? J – People’s sense that a place can belong to them and that a place holds for them memories of when they were there and what happened to them. And just when you have when you have something quite problematic like when people say that’s a space that I don’t belong in that’s a space I don’t


feel…every time you feel I am not part of that, I don’t belong, that’s a little chip in your heart, and if that’s local to you then that’s really terrible because it’s your neighbourhood but not that bit. Particularly when it’s a big civic space, it’s different when it’s a Polish club or something you think that’s not necessarily my tribe but when it’s a big civic space and you say I don’t belong there then I think that’s a terrible indictment of the idea of generosity and equality. So yes all my work as an artist has been about creating interactive moments. And the architectural possibilities are key to that. So for example, the reason I have come here and would never go to the Barbican is because the architecture of this site is built completely permissively around the Festival of Britain concept of everybody’s imagination counts, which makes it literally a space for transparent interaction whereas the Barbican, in my opinion, is built around a completely different notion of being impressive. And although the teams in the Barbican can do lots of things about inclusiveness you can’t make the architecture speak of that. And I felt that Battersea Arts Centre also had very inclusive architecture. I think that’s partly to do with that period, the Victorian period, although we’re very critical of some aspects of Victorian period it’s actually shot through with philanthropy and social purpose and you can feel that in the architecture. A – It was about building a building big enough to represent the number of people living in Battersea at the time and that massive population and they felt they needed somewhere they could all be together and meet and represented the size of the community that was there. And I understand more now what Metal is because I hadn’t managed to link that in my head to what you being Artistic Director of South Bank and what the connection is? J – Well the connection is this space was built from a social philosophy and you have to recapture it. That’s your obligation I think. In a historical context your obligation is to pick up the ropes from the previous generation where they have laid down ideas struggled to change, and the obligation is to keep it going and I felt that this place had lost its connection with its past. A – Do you think it did that when it went through its refurbishment process? J – No, long before that. I think it went through it, an erosion of…being in the arts is not the same as having a philosophy, being in the arts is not the same as investigating the moral purpose not of the arts but the moral purpose behind sub diving the arts. The reason why taxation has…why we have decided that as a society that the arts should be subsidised is to do with the human right to art, article 27 of the Human Rights Declaration so then you say well where are we evidencing that and what are the great strides were made that speak of those things and this was one of them. But I don’t think it was talked about from the…it wasn’t talked about from when they pulled the Festival of Britain down which they did deliberately because the conservatives came in and they thought it was too much of a Labour project. Metal is looking at, the same thing really, we’ve taken possession of Edgehill station which is the oldest working station in the world in one of poorest communities in Europe and it will reopen in September, all the bits that were derelict as a working community artistic space. If you look up the history of Edgehill it’s where the first trains ever in the whole world left one. Stevenson’s Rocket left from Edgehill Station. You talk about the moment of propelling us in to the world of the modern age and there you have that incredible significance of the modern age and there you have a community that’s one of the poorest in Europe. And I wanted to do something that was about recovering and starting new memories that were positive. In Southend which is Chalk Hall we are doing something slightly different which is…it’s in a park, it’s a Grade II listed building in a park, a Georgian hall, using the hall as symbol of environmental connection because it’s in a park. We’re working with Bill Dunster the architect and we’ve transformed it in to a carbon neutral space which is quite difficult to do with a Grade II listed space. Then we’re working with the gardeners and the


community creating allotments and vegetable patches and got the restaurants to take the produce. I suppose what I’m saying is that spaces have enormous meaning and some of them are really toxic. You have to do things to detoxify them. And if spaces were built with wonderful purpose then go back and find a purpose that is in alignment with it so that’s what I was trying to do with Battersea. I mean it’s hard for other…people who don’t share that particular passion they wouldn’t see it in that light, they’d just think you were doing something to do with the arts but it’s more than that. A – I think it’s interesting that…I like the idea that in a space…I feel like over some of BAC’s history the space has been fought more than it should have been maybe… J – In Battersea? Yes absolutely A – I mean you do fight a building no matter what you’re doing in it, but I think taking more of the memory of the building and why it was built for and who it was built for and working more with that and less of trying to just turn it in to the thing that you want to do is probably a really…working with it in a much more powerful way. J – Metal in London, which is asleep at the moment, where I started Metal from which I think is still on the website is an old railway ticket office in West Hampstead. I walked in there and it hadn’t been used as a ticket office for years. There was a metal worker in there who’d been there for 50 years. As soon as I walked in I knew that it was this incredible space and in your memory you can see all the people arriving to buy a ticket. And you can see what an intense community experience when trains had just been invented. ‘Where are you going?’ ‘I’m going to so and so’ the idea of sharing stories, it’s so potent. And Cedric Price was a great friend of mine, the architect, do you know?... A – No I don’t. J - Oh well you must, you must read Cedric’s work. You will be so happy to have discovered him. Sadly he died a couple of years ago. He was a wonderful wonderful man. We were talking about that space. And he said you ‘must divide the space by light’. That’s both a physical and meta-physical statement. Defining the space by light is a really powerful thought about all kinds of things. A – Louis Cane is the other architect I have heard who think like that in terms of the light and temperature of the space. J – Yes so when I was at Battersea I deeply loved the building and I still do but of course once you leave you…because you can’t, you can’t have it both ways, you can’t leave and also feel possessive, because it’s just unacceptable, so you just have to stand by and watch other people do what they were going to do. And I think that David and now the Davids who the people who are in touch with what I was talking about too. A –David did say of all the people who’d been artistic directors since you came he felt closest in terms of what he hoped to achieve in the building to what you had been trying to do. J – Yes, that’s true. So I have great respect for him and what he’s…and then again because he’s working from intuition and the values he’s got…he’s not got a kind of ‘grand projet’ and going well this is what I feel like doing..


A – This is how I’m going to fit it in. It is more responsive to the actual building. David once told me about you had Michael Vale come in at the last moment of the Royal Festival Hall being refurbished and asked him to sort of put an artist’ eye and I just wanted to ask you quickly about bringing an artist in to a process like that and what that means and why you would do that? J – Really important I think to…architects don’t necessarily see people in the space. I know they think they do. But I am not sure they do. And artists are always about paradigm shifts and you’ve got to find ways of leaving enough opportunity for those shifts, those reinventions of space, those rearticulating of space to happen and if you’ve bound their feet in some ways as spaces, sometimes you cant do that. So it is about leaving boltholes for the imagination to go in to and be a virus. A – Thank you.


Appendix 7 Interview David Micklem, Battersea Arts Centre, 19 June 2009 David Micklem was Executive Director at BAC from May 2007 to March 2008, covering Rosie Hunter’s maternity leave. He became Joint Artistic Director of BAC, partnering David Jubb, in April 2008. Prior to that he was Senior Theatre Officer of the Arts Council England working at the national office. Allegra - Could you describe your perception of BAC before you arrived, and where you came from? David - My history with BAC goes back probably to the late nineties when I first started work with David Jubb who was the only producer here at BAC when Tom Morris was Artistic Director. He and I worked on a couple projects when I was at the Arts Council, as a funder, and with him as a producer. And even in those early days there was really a synergy between the kind of work that he liked and the kind of work that I liked. Two of the projects that we really coalesced around were David Gale’s I am Dandy which I think David [Jubb] took to the Edinburgh fringe in 2000 or 2001, then his work with Ridiculusmus who I have always been a fan of. So I was working at the national office of the Arts Council as Senior Theatre Officer and my chief role at that stage was looking after the National Touring Programme, so supporting artists and producers to distribute their work nationally and internationally. Very quickly David became a trusted client of the Arts Council. So even though there was no formal relationship, whenever there was an application from David about the projects he wanted to develop I took notice and felt it was worth trying to find a way to support. I have always been drawn to BAC as an institution because of the building and because of the focus David and Jude and Tom have always placed around the producer and what the producer can do to help bridge the links between the artist and the audience. So I always felt there was a powerful magnet at the top of Lavender Hill drawing me this way. So I worked for the Arts council for almost six years and I have got to say I had a ball. I was there at a very good period of growth, 2001 to 2007. I arrive in the first year in the major increase in theatre funding that ACE had at its disposal. I came into an organisation that was in a position to be quite bold: there is some good work happening over there, lets put some resource behind it, lets nurture them and grow them. I had clients, I had a number of companies I was the lead officer for, companies like Forced Entertainment, Complicite, Improbable. I had the National Touring Programme budget of £14 million per year and I had managed funds, which are basically funds which you decide how they should be spent. In my first year I had around £900,000 of managed funds. So I was in quite a significant position of authority and it was a great time to be there. There was lots of room to make things happen. I could be a bit of a producer. I had a fantastic boss in Nicola Thorold, who is now on our *BAC’s+ board, Head of Theatre for that time. But after five years lots of those resources had been stripped away. I no longer had the clients, the National Touring Programme was delegated to the regions. A - What happened to the clients? Did that relationship change structurally? D - Yes, clients also went to the regions, so Forced Entertainment went to the Yorkshire office, Improbable to the London office and so on. So I had no clients, no National Touring budget and in my final year I had no managed funds. So I became a report writer. There was a wonderful coincidence when I had David ringing me to say ‘Rosie *Hunter+ is going on maternity leave, do you fancy making


an application to BAC?’ and my thinking ‘I have got to get out of the Arts council now, I have done my job’. A - Can you explain the changes in the Arts Council? D - It was a change in the relationship between the national and the regional offices. It is always changing, which is the frustrating thing. Back in the mid nineties there were ten regional arts boards and then there was the national arts council. And the national council looked after all the national clients, so the national touring companies and the National Theatre, ROH. The regional arts boards looked after all the regional clients. And the Arts Council granted the regional boards funds but there was no formal relationship between them. Then the year I joined there was a merger, all the regional arts boards became one Arts Council and the power of the national office began slowly to dribble away. When I started working at there they had a staff of fourteen and now there are two, and they are just report writers. The national office is the strategic body. They don’t have any funds, they don’t have any clients. So a significant change. The other connection between me and BAC is in my final year a teamed up with Roanne Dods, the Director of the Jerwood Foundation, who like me had a similar passion for wanting to shine a light on the role of the producer and we talked about a number of interventions we might make together to raise the profile of the producer. And I guess the most practical outcome of that was this book, The Producers, which we co-commissioned and published in 2007. Of course David Jubb was chapter four or five of that book. Again that was another chance for me to reconnect with David and get under the skin of his thinking and his philosophy. And again that just further cemented the sense that we had very similar outlook on the world, on what theatre is and what it could be. We both shared an anger about certain kinds of theatre, which probably got too much of the subsidy and the attention for too long. A - That is actually related to my next question, probably also linked to why you came to BAC, which is what do you think is important about theatre, why you make it and who do you think it is for? D - This is all going to sound very bombastic, but I think theatre can change people’s lives, I genuinely do. It certainly changed mine. And it continues to do so, even as I get older, I think it has a transformative power, as does music, as does visual arts, as does opera for some people. But for me I think theatre has the most transformative power. And I think it can transform anybody. Whether you’re 2 or 102, from a very poor background, or you’ve had the most extraordinary education actually theatre can have a transformative power. And I want to reclaim theatre as a term that doesn’t mean well educated middle class white people putting on ties and buying gin & tonic and going out and seeing something cerebral and complex. It is that but it is also about having a shared experience which is profound and moving and theatre whilst it can be a play but it can also be a one on one performance. It can even be a wedding, I think some of the most theatrical experiences I’ve had have been people’s weddings where they’ve really thought about narrative and journey and story. So I’m really excited about that notion that we might reclaim that notion of theatre so that 14 year old down the road in ten years time says ‘yeh yeh I’m going to my local theatre to Beatbox, or kickbox, or push weights’ or whatever it is: a theatre is a place where people come together to have an extraordinary and creative experience. Yes very keen to reclaim theatre because I think it has, in this bubble theatre means something very different to the man on the 37 bus which is gin & tonics and nodding off a bit…


A - Yes, I re-read that opening page of 2005 OctoberFest “Is Theatre Any Good?” and the responses of people when David was walking up and down saying ‘so what do you think theatre is’…‘lots of people sleeping at the same time’… ‘Shakespeare’… D – Yes. Again you will have heard this from the other David is the thing that really unites us in our love of theatre is about the role of the audience, the centrality of the participant in the work. A – How did you come to that? You worked at the Arts Council and you named some of the people who were your clients like Forced Entertainment and obviously companies that probably put quite a strong emphasis on that. And was it from seeing that kind of work or how did you come… D – Yes. I was the Senior Theatre Officer and I was the lead officer for contemporary performance so I was charged with developing strategies and supporting work that was that would be defined as contemporary performance. So that was experimental devised physical theatre, street arts, outdoor performance, circus, puppetry, so I was providing the policy lead for all that work. And over five years I really developed a taste for that stuff, you know I travelled extensively, I saw a lot of work in unusual spaces, and saw what it could do to people which isn’t about people falling asleep together… A – Did you have a moment where you went ‘ah’, was there a first time, or a was it a series of different performances, is there anything you can remember… D – The thing I am most proud of is the Elephant in that I played a pivotal role in bringing it over and then became Associate Producer working with Artichoke to bring it to the UK and to bring it to London. In watching people’s response to that project in Nantes in France when I first saw it and watching it again in London and seeing people’s response you know it was an extraordinary work of art. What was most extraordinary about it is that you were in a group of ten thousand people, one hundred thousand people, a million people on a Sunday witnessing something together, talking to the person next to you who you’d never met who was standing next to you. There was a wonderful story that somebody told me watching the elephant. They were watching the finale and a man picked up this woman’s daughter and put her daughter on his shoulders and they watched the finale together and only then did she turn to this man and realise she didn’t know him. And you know to be in London where we’re all fearful of paedophiles and terrorism and all these terrible happening to have that experience that makes you drop your guard and relish each other’s humanity is I think profound and unbeatable. Sometimes rock concerts do that to people too, big public moments that are spectacular theatrical moments, for me it is that kind of work that really reminded me the role the audience can play in that work. A – You say you saw a work in a lot of unusual spaces and this brings us on to a question about spaces. Was there a point when you realised that maybe that relationship with the audience that a significant part of that had to do with the kind of space you were in? D – Definitely. I think partly for thee presentation in that different spaces can add another character in performance whereas black box theatre spaces tend to be an absence of character, it’s all about what’s happening on stage and the audience, it’s not about the room playing a role. But I think it’s also important in the making work. As you know, this gaff makes a lot of work and I think the DNA of these walls often ends up in the work that you then see on a stage in Sydney Australia three years after the work has bubbled out of BAC. I think architecture informs work, informs the making process and I’m kind of excited about that too. I think sterile performance environments often create sterile work.


A – That’s reminded me about you talk about Kneehigh’s work. D – Yes very much. I think the work that’s least successful that Kneehigh have done is the work that they have never made a second of in Gorran Haven. But actually Tristan Yseult when I saw it in Sydney you know you can smell the sea even though it’s twelve thousand miles away and two and a half years since they first made it there’s still something of the dust of those barns that still inhabits the work. So yes, I’m really interested in that notion that the two way process that artists pick up the part of the DNA of the building and the building picks it up from the work. You walk around this building and the traces of Masque of the Red Death or Don John are very evident. I like that notion that the building is putting on other clothes over a history and one day we might pull back some of those clothes and have a look underneath them and say ‘oh, look there’s 1927’ *1927 is a theatre company’s name+ A – I think it would be lovely to have one wall which is rainbow like with the layers. D – You could be like an archaeologist and chip through A - Leave a strip of each with a tag at the bottom D – And in a hundred years all the rooms would be much smaller they would have accreted all these other layers. A – I suppose that brings us on to this building and we’re what working on in the building. Just to start could you describe to me what Playgrounding is? D – Playgrounding is an artist centred approach that examines architecture and theatre through playing space. That’s probably not as clear as I can make it. It’s a process of collaboration between st artists and an architect in our example here to discover a 21 century arts centre in a former municipal building, Town Hall, and it’s playful, defined by playfulness, and the notions of discovery and mistake, I really love the notions of mistake. I went to talk that Grayson Perry was giving, the visual artist and he was saying that in his studio he has a bin and around the bin he has etched creativity is mistakes. I just love that notion. The whole notion of Scratch is about making mistakes in public. And people going ‘what’ or ‘that bit’s good’ and that feeds the work and accretes. My understanding of Playgrounding is that it’s a process that encourages artists to take risks and make mistakes and make huge discoveries by exploring their practice in three dimensions working with an architect to explore the building. A – As it’s been going through this process, I suppose what you’re talking about is, also significantly is a timescale, and quite a longer timescale that would be considered for an architectural process. Could you talk a bit about trying to marry a theatrical timescale and an architectural timescale. D – I think this is a process that will never end. I think that’s a real positive. I remember talking to Steve, he doesn’t remember this, but in about 1999, no probably 2000 after the Royal Court had opened and he was talking about how they’d done some work to the Royal Court but that it was just a moment on a line of what further iterations of that building must be and I guess whilst we think of st th ourselves being on a five year process to create a 21 century theatre in a 19 century Town Hall the end of that five year period will just be a moment in time whether it’s David and I or other people I hope we will continue that exploration that sense of play. Don’t know if you’ve had a chance to look


at the first floor rooms? They are without doubt aesthetically beautiful, clean surfaces, stripped floors, brilliant for Andrew’s Events team, if I had one anxiety it’s that they’re finished. If I was going in as an artist I think I would probably ask somebody before I screwed something to the floor or painted a bit of wall. Whereas in this room which is clearly in the process of evolution of change I’d risk it, I’d make that intervention, and I am sure we will find a way of working with our Production and Premises team to get them to understand that whilst it’s beautiful now it will be even more beautiful when Felix Barrett, or Emma Rice or Tassos Stevens make some changes to those spaces. I think one of the inherent push and pulls of this Playgrounding process is that it’s got to work for artists but it’s also got to work for our Events team. You know our Events team have got a significant income target to hit every year, much easier to hit it now with perfect sanded floors, perfect clean magnolia walls. Again David and I were talking about this the other day, there’s a bit of us that thinks we could actually make more money out of those spaces if an artist went in and made changes to them which weren’t about neutrality, which weren’t about steady state. You remember that bit of the exposed ceiling in the… A – I was so sad that it was gone. D – Me too, that was the most exciting bit about the space. And my heart sunk when I saw it had gone. Of course it had to go because it’s very hard for Andrew to sell that room to anybody when it just looks like a flood. But like you I am so wedded to it because it makes the room have a personality, it tells a story and it tells whatever story you want to give it, it could be about a flood, and that’s now gone, that’s now been covered up. A – The push pull between the Events and the Theatre side which is a business pull which has always been there in the organisation particularly with the Grand Hall which has always been there but there’s also inside the Theatre team there’s a desire to preserve elements of the past and the ghosts but then there’s also, I know we’ve had discussions where artists have just said ‘I just want it clean’. I remember those shell doors, the fight to keep them. D – Again I am sure she wouldn’t mind me saying this but I had a lot of very feisty conversations with Emma Rice when she was here with Don John about the foyer. Because to her as an artist the foyer is a hangover from Masque of the Red Death. And she wants when Don John is here for Don John to infect the rest of the building in the was that Masque of the Red Death did the year before that. And so there were lots of conversations where she wanted to paint all of these walls the magnolia colour. A – Why did she want to do that? D – I think not because she had a better or stronger visual aesthetic in mind but because she wanted to eradicate the sense or presence of that other show. We were having a conversation this morning at Arts Admin all about sustainability and climate change and how theatre has got a long way to go before it even makes first moves to becoming much more sustainable and we talked about recycling and the reason why people don’t recycle sets is because of ego, it’s because of designer, it’s almost the last thing they would do. They would sell their grandchildren before they said ‘yes, I’ll use that flat and that window in my set’ because then it’s not really feeling like it’s their work. I think Emma’s feeling about the foyer was similar. While she didn’t have a strong feeling about what it should be in the world of the show she definitely had a strong feeling that it shouldn’t be the world of the previous show.


A – Great artists are so often control freaks wanting to manage every year. I often wonder why costumiers keep costume cupboards. Because they will go in to it and nothing will be quite right and they will make everything from scratch. Like a good costume they would be see as being one that was made, fresh, new, different, from anything else before. Well done for keeping it. D – We reached an agreement that we’d give her that wall and then we’re exiting the world of Don John. So we’re going back in to an arts centre that has enough a life. But yes it’s tough, I think that is one of the tough things about Playgrounding there is that artistic desire, as visual artists do, to start with a blank canvass. And we’re not doing that. We’re saying that this is a canvass tons of paintings on it already and we just want you to leave another one. A – Do you think there is a challenge there, if we’re not providing a blank canvass, is BAC as a producer making too many decisions for the artist. D – I think if an artist felt that then we’re probably not thee right organisation for an artist to work with. If an artist wants to come in a to a perfect black box white space whatever it is and develop a clean piece of work then we’re not the right context. It’s not being pejorative about their work. It’s just not harmonious. In the same way that if an artist doesn’t really get Scratch. I won’t mention names but I know some directors who will come to first day of rehearsals with a book like this and its th Monday 18 June and today it’s 10am and we’re going to do this and this and this and you guys are going to stand there and I’m going to get you guys to do all that sound stuff and we’re going to break for lunch between 2 and 2.15 and you know the show is already made. And that is a brilliant way of making work. Like a Katie Mitchell way of making work. And the work is brilliant. But we couldn’t make that work here. Because we don’t work like that. We want, as Emma Rice does, first day of rehearsals, let’s play some music, let’s have a dance, you’ve seen it down in Gorran Haven, it can feel quite chaotic, it can feel quite oxygenated that everybody’s got stuff to throw in and then she begins to tease out the story. I guess the parallel I’d like to quickly draw there is when decisions are taken, when decisions are made, again not being pejorative but Katie Mitchell tends to make all her decisions in the homework stage in the pre-rehearsal stage and I guess the polar opposite of that who is Emma Rice who makes lots of decisions very late and who pumps lots of oxygen in to the process to ensure those decisions can be taken late. And I guess in terms of architecture we’re really keen to follow that process where we don’t lock down decisions and go right ‘it’s like that, let’s do it, let’s commit’ and in fact with Don John as you know we went through three iterations of a seating format, or two before we came to the third one which was the right one. And we probably spent thousands of pounds, probably tens of thousands of pounds in consultants’ time working up schemes that we didn’t go with. I think that’s absolutely valid. I think we ended up with the right solution but we only ended up with the right solution by going down some of the wrong routes first. And some of that thinking will benefit us in the longer term because we may well return to some of those other solutions but a standard architectural process would have locked down that asymmetrical design and said ‘right, nobody’s going to change their mind, great let’s go for it, let’s commission the build, let’s commission the contractors, let’s go for it’. And we would all have been sitting there on the opening night thinking why did we do it like this, this isn’t quite right. A – Can you talk a bit about the A-M process architecturally and what kind of challenges you think Playgrounding poses to that? D – I think the fundamental challenge of the process of Playgrounding is that it requires a complete re-write of the given received wisdom about how you run an architectural process. In that it says,


keep A-B, make A-B very very long, keep going back to A and B, when you’re at C and D maybe go back.. A – That’s the main thing isn’t it that A stays longer but even more crucially that you find ways of looping. D – Yes and actually because we have a multi-phase project it enables you to do that. You’re not taking the whole building, the whole ten million pound project and saying ‘let’s move it all to D, all on board yup, right let’s go to E’ what we’re actually saying is that we’ll do the Grand Hall so let’s go to D with that, and going to D with that will help inform some of the A and B thinking around the rest of the building. A – One more question. The conversation with Axel and Tom Morris made me realise how significant, I mean Axel said ‘You cannot underestimate how significant it was that the plans we were making occurred within that window of time in which the lottery funding was there’ and he said they were very tied to that period of time. And I thought it was interesting from your point of view as both an Artistic Director here at BAC and an ex-Arts Council officer what your view is on that of Arts Council funding provoking a project. It’s a bit chicken and egg I suppose. D – Are you saying that Axel would not have developed this had it not been for the climate… A – I think Tom Morris wanted to do something anyway, he wanted to work on the building and because of his wavelength in theatre fought the building perhaps more than we do and it didn’t have everything he wanted it to have but for instance, this interior courtyard Tom Morris right from the beginning, I’ve read an interview from when he first became Artistic Director at BAC wanted to do a garden in the heart of the building something to draw people in and then suddenly in the space of six months to a year that went from being a garden to being, I mean this was really tall, it was like a gherkin like insertion in to the middle of the building with this glass roof and a spiral staircase on the outside, aluminium coated studio theatre with rehearsal space, I mean just incredible sort of thing and I think Tom would possibly never have done that if there hadn’t been, Tom said he was encouraged to think… D – think bigger and bigger. And thank god it didn’t get built. The problem with places like The Public in West Bromwich did get built and people sort of said it’s a blank cheque you know, keep designing, go for your wildest dreams, West Bromwich is a depressed part of England, it needs something to celebrate something to have fun with and they’ve ended up with a building a fifty million pound project that is fast approaching closure that isn’t wanted by the arts community that isn’t wanted by the local community. So yes, the Arts Council and it’s capital lottery money has a lot to answer for in terms of pumping too much expectation around buildings. In many way we’re lucky, this sounds like a masochistic thing to say, but we’re lucky in that we’re not in a period when there’s huge amounts of lottery money floating around because it feels like Playgrounding and the notion that we’ve developed is true to the spirit of what we want to do rather than being influenced by pots of cash of there. We will come up with a project that feels right for the building that feels right for the people that use it, and that will have a number attached to it and then we’ll go and find that money, rather than the Arts Council saying ‘BAC, ten million, twenty million, or fifty million’ and then you start to go ‘wow, maybe we should have a five story gherkin in the middle of the building’. So I think we’re not in a period of great excess. Again another thing you will have heard David talk about and I fundamentally agree with him is that the more time we spend at A and B discussing and developing a relationship with our architectural partners and having an idea then having a better idea then a


brilliant idea the less money we’ll spend when we do the big F to N bit the actual commissioning and delivering. Because we have had all those fantastic ideas and then destroyed them in the fantasy period of the architectural process rather than in the real build process where you suddenly go ‘oh, that’s very big isn’t it, and expensive’ so yes it feels good that we’re in a position where we should be able to fit the resources to the project rather than the project to the resources. I do sound like a masochist. I think it would be terrible if it was now 1995 to be saying to our Arts Council officer Nick Williams ‘what sort of level should BAC come in at?’ and him or whoever it was then saying ‘think about ten million’ or ‘think about fifteen million’ because as soon as somebody has said that you work to that and it’s not long before it becomes twenty-five million. A – It’s very hard not to think within the financial parameters of the time in which you are. D – I am a great believer from having been on the other side of the Arts Council of great ideas always always always get everything, they get attention they get the money they get the press they get the audience, whether it’s Masque of the Red Death or whether, this probably sounds arrogant, or it’s the building project we’re embarking on, or it’s the next brilliant idea that we have or it’s things that other people are doing, good ideas, or it’s the Elephant, the Elephant required an unprecedented money from the Arts Council in one chunk for a foreign company to do a piece of work in London. I mean there were lots of reasons why it shouldn’t have happened. But ultimately it was a fucking brilliant brilliant idea. And so the money was never going to be a problem really. I mean it was a problem and it would took a lot negotiation to make it happen. But I have a great confidence that because of the purity of this process that David and Steve first developed and now I’ve sort of taken and helped develop further because it feels so principled I supposed and well thought through whether it takes five years or seven years or three years we’re going to do it because it’s strong, it’s really strong. I think it will be great for this building and I think it will be great for other arts projects to think more holistically about how they engage with users of the building, your phrase about human centred design process actually feed something like an arts build project or like a hospital or school project. Wouldn’t it be great if every new building was built like this?


Appendix 8 Interview Steve Tompkins, at his home in Hampstead, 19 June 2009 Steve Tompkins is a co-director, with Graham Haworth, of Haworth Tompkins Architects. He has been working with BAC since September 2006. The company was formed in 1991 and has designed work for clients across the public, private and subsidised sectors including schools, galleries, theatres, housing, offices, shops and factories. Allegra – You know what playgrounding is right? Steve – (Laugh) A – I know what you think playgrounding is, that sort of stuff? S – Yeah, yeah, yeah A – So, … What I’ve ended up doing for the dissertation, maybe I’ll just give you a little bit, it’s not very long, but um… It’s about how architecture relates to theatre. It’s a chronological look at it, but taking the BAC as a specific example, because the BAC has had a number of architects involved with it, so many different approaches to it over the years, it sort of acts like a nice small picture of how our approach to theatre space has changed. In particular, obviously, the Levitt Bernstein project because that was the most developed before you came… S – Was there another one? A – Not another big project, but it seems that when I look into it, BAC has always had an architect. It just kind of… S – Oh, that’s interesting A - …It’s just kind of an ongoing, so as you go back through the board papers, half the redevelopment, 1983-84, oh ’87, then there was one in ’85, then ’87, ’91, 1995-96, so it’s just kind of continuous and ongoing. Which I think is an interesting thing about that building anyway, but erm…because it’s a conversion, it’s just always had people tinkering with it. Erm…but obviously the major examples are Levitt Bernstein and you guys, but mainly just looking at how we have approached theatre space and so getting to a point where it says where we are now in our approach to theatre space. S – Yep, ok… A – That’s kind of it. S – OK, great. A – Good…erm, so my question, it starts with, could you describe the beginning of your relationship with the BAC, I think it was Nick Starr who introduced you to David? S – Yeah, I’ve been working with Nick Starr for probably ten years, starting with the temporary Almeida project, he was the executive director of the Almeida, the Gainsborough studios and the


Kings Cross projects, and that was great, formed a really fantastic relationship with Nick. A very sort of light footed, very trusting, straightforward, very informal, cutting through a lot of red tape, cutting through a lot of the, sort of, accepted procedure to get things done. Mainly because they were such quick projects, well they weren’t like architecture projects, they were much more like set builds, right from the outset you’re working within a different set of expectations, different timescales. Like Gainsborough I think was seventeen weeks from phone call to open night, so everything had to happen within that space of time so there was no room for any sort of design stages, so there was no room for sign off, in an sense was no room to make any decision more than once, straightforwardly and there was this sort of headlong, constantly trying to trim the process so it stayed aerodynamically stable. It doesn’t just hit deck at any particular moment and we were negotiating with the leases, we didn’t own most of the site until right at the last second, we didn’t have enough money to employ or make contractors so we did it with theatre people… A – I read that yeah… S - …so it was, it was built with freelance chippies, Kevin Fitzmaurice, was Nick’s assistant, and driving around looking for raw materials and ringing up and trying to get carpenters at the last minute so it was very, very direct, completely unconventional, not a conventionally professional relationship at all and that kind of set the tone because we had cut our teeth on small, exciting projects, where we had complete autonomy, complete trust. And then Nick asked me to do the National Theatre studio, which again was great and then after that the National itself through a much more formal selection process. And in the meantime, through his chairmanship at the BAC, I think recognised that there would be a good, sort of, psychologically profiled bid between me and David Jubb and so it proved to be. It sort of heated up from the word go and we got excited about the same things and had the same references and understood building, I think, in a very similar way, which was as a sort of quarry of existential raw materials rather than a problem that needs to be somehow solved… A – Yeah S - …and therefore, I think the process of working on the BAC has been much more about keeping the signals current and buoyant rather than trying to wrench it into some sort of national alternative version of where the “problem”, in inverted commas, has been solved by professionals, quite the opposite in a way… A – It’s interesting that you that, erm…because the first thing that Tom Morris said to me when I started talking to him was that, he actually said that it was a problem, that there was a problem at the heart of the BAC and, no sorry the word he used was “broken” which is actually better than problem, but he did say it was a problem, that there was a brokenness about the building, which they were trying to rescue which, obviously is something… S – I see it almost as the opposite, I think it’s sort of a rich, deep, supple, flexible beast that you go and tickle and… A - …see what comes up… S - …but you don’t, you can never really tame it, because it is what it is and it’s such a strong flavour, such a strong animal, that it would be pointless to try and wrench it into a conversion of itself, it would just…


A – Trying to change what it is… S - …you’d somehow neuter it, and I think that our instinct has been to embrace whatever is problematic about building in conventional terms and turn it into something exciting because actually that’s what artists tend to grip on. They will always focus in straight into what’s problematic, what’s difficult and what’s complex and what’s broken in that sense and that’s the (wells grip?) of their creative response or their creative engagement with the building and so for the architect to come along at great expense and to iron that all smooth is evidently counter productive under those terms. A – And so that is, I suppose for an architect, that is a thing unique to working in a theatre and arts space? S – I think it is in some ways, I think it is, I don’t think there is any other brief where it’s actively advantageous to leave the building somehow recalcitrant, somehow unyielding, but nevertheless strong and capable of being engaged with. You know even a cinema is different, a school of art is different, even a music space is different because the extent to which the artist engages with space is so much more shallow under the terms of that conversation. You know with theatre space, the space is intrinsic to the process, is intrinsic to the experience. A – And when did that become obvious to you? Because the sentence you just said is not necessarily obvious to a lot of theatre makers even, I mean now more so maybe than ten or fifteen years ago, but in terms of your… S – Well the sort of guest that one would make at the BAC, I think would probably be a self selecting process anyway because the artists that are going to be interested in working at BAC are going to want to have their own autonomy with it, they’re going to want to have their own independent and, to a greater or lesser extent, untrammelled relationship with the space, with all its difficulty and all its layers of memory and history and politics. A – I suppose in some way that artists who approach work through the scratch process will self select… S – Will self select so there is an automatic netting procedure where you will end up with a constituency of artists who are predisposed towards that and so you want to leave as many options open as possible. A – When did you start, what was the first that you worked on? S – Royal Court A – Royal Court S – Easy ones first (Laugh) A – I watched that programme of you, you know the BBC one? S – Oh, the Omnibus


A – The Omnibus S – Yeah, Yeah A – Yeah, and it was really fun, you were saying “I think the seats should be like a Rothko painting”… (Laugh) …which I thought was a brilliant moment. (Laughter) S – Oh yeah, there are lots of brilliantly embarrassing moments. A – Yeah and somebody next to you, you going “You know Rothko?” and the person next to you just going “…what”… S – “uh huh…no…”… (Laughter) S – Moving on. A - Yeah, I suppose what I’m trying to understand is when did your understanding of theatre develop to the point where you would work the way you’re working at the BAC with artists? S – I don’t know, I think probably it’s always been in me, I mean the reaction to the Royal Court was, I guess fairly particular in that it’s, you know you can treat it very roughly but there’s a sort of archaeological narrative which in some ways is going to give the building substance and probity in a way that doing that sort of more conventional, more oppositional new versus old, that sort of tired cliché of architecture, of refurbishment where… A – Bring in the old thing… S – Yeah, and there’s a kind of uninterrogated assumption that the architect will do something which is kind of slippery and so called contemporary, offered in radical juxtaposition to something which is kind of old, therefore implicitly obsolete or no longer potent whereas my reaction was the opposite, it’s actually a glomeration, the accretion of cultural raw materials and memory, which is the thing that is precious. Which is the thing to be extrapolated and treasured and somehow commandeered for artists to engage with. That, that seems to be something, that’s the gift of working with old buildings because they have those intersecting narratives. A – they bring you so much to start with. S – Yes, they are there to be uncovered, ignored, or kicked or abused or loved, but the point is that the choice is there for the artist and you don’t lock that off by somehow bracketing it as redundant material or simply an aesthetic prop to your own new invention. Does that make sense?


A – No it does, in terms of what a lot of people have done in old building, you do get a sense they’ve kept the brick wall, like walking past a glass cabinet in a museum… S – Yes and they have somehow fetishised it or locked it off… A – So it’s not actually part of the functioning building… S - …it’s no longer current, it’s no longer vital, it’s somehow been neutralised. A – When you first came to BAC I suppose the first major document was Fuzzy Logic, a beginning of thinking about what Playgrounding was. S – Yes, like a sort of stream of consciousness document really. A – Can you define what you see Playgrounding is being and how it’s different from working a more traditional way. S – What excites me about Playgrounding is that a recognition of the reality of creative process which is absolutely non-linear. It’s repetitive, it’s about feeling relaxed, it’s about the ability to be vulnerable, to trust, and to be in a situation where you can make a fool of yourself but you can make a fool of yourself in a serious environment, you can make a serious fool of yourself… (Laughter) S – And I recognise that in terms of my own design process and I always flourish when I am in conditions where we can think the unthinkable or have utterly rubbish ideas which will suddenly distil into something meaningful or something serious or something real. And it’s the ability to hold those ideas in your peripheral vision in a state of flux for long enough that they can subliminally mature as it were and then they are really ideas, they work harder. Whereas if you’re constrained in to this linear series of you…I was saying this to David earlier…you have the idea at a certain stage, and then there’s the deadline, and then the idea at a certain stage is signed off.. A – It’s almost as if the idea almost stops mattering S – The idea is history and it can never be changed and that idea has been paid for with good money, thank you very much, so you never say ‘you know that idea you paid for it turns out it was rubbish, it was rubbish, and here’s a better idea. In most circumstances that’s embarrassing. But with playgrounding, it’s like ‘how fantastic, now we’ve had another idea’ and so it’s making concrete what most artists go through anyway and particularly in architecture we pretend we don’t because we’re infallible professionals and we’re expensive infallible professionals more to the point and so the room for what would otherwise be seen as error is miniscule and if you want to change your mind you have to do it by subterfuge… A – And pretending that… S – yes, the circumstances have changed, there’s a technical reasons, a health and safety reasons, you can’t just say ‘I’ve changed my mind, it turns out it’s a crap idea and here’s a better one’. A – It’s interesting, that’s saying that the process doesn’t treat architects as artists.


S – I think that’s the point. And one thing that we have found this process is that it’s not only architects that flourish by being treated as artists it’s everyone, from building control officer to listed building, to maintenance officer… A – to fire officer… S – Absolutely, you say here’s a creative problem, help us solve it with your own creativity given your specialist knowledge and your enthusiasm and given our respect for your knowledge and enthusiasm, come and help us solve this. God, it’s just transformative. Completely transformative. A – I think it’s amazing that in one review for Masque of the Red Death the reviewer actually congratulated the health and safety officer. S – Sure, and quite rightly so, because it’s a real creative active of faith, it’s a piece of artistry to pull that off and to trust that it’s ok, it’s going to work, and it did work. It’s something I think particularly in the UK our arteries have got so congealed with process and with customer practice that when there’s an alternative version that presents itself it’s seen as revelatory but as we know when you go outside the UK it’s absolutely standard practice. To us it’s shocking and marvelous and inspiring. A – That was funny walking around Sao Paolo with you and the pain on your face occasionally walking down a really nice staircase and you just going… (Laughter) S - Why can’t we do this? A – I’d have to have a break here and a banister here S – Absolutely, all that. So that’s the thing that Playgrounding helps us get back to, it’s a rediscovery of innocence which for me is inherently creative. A – And do you think it’s possible with that question that you asked Vicky *Heywood, Executive Director of the RSC+, I think you said something about ‘are the definitions actually unhelpful of architect and client and tendering’, do you think it’s possible to change that system? S – I do, I have to think that. It was a disingenuous question of course. In a project like that there’s so much money and so much risk riding on it, it’s very difficult to stay buoyant and the whole idea of risk management is abut closing those processes down. But I would argue that if you’re actually trying to manage the risk of the thing you end up with being rubbish then we have to be more imaginative. And so actual risk management, in the widest sense is about loosening up those processes, and people like project managers having the imagination and the guts and the insight to say ‘ok, my job is enabler and protector of the creative process, my job is not about nailing creative people to the floor before they are ready to be nailed down or to frighten or bully people in to never changing their mind’ because that is simply crass. So I think the best project managers, the best health and safety officers, the best fire officers, they know that and they know that their job is inherently creative but when it comes all about procedure and the be all and end all is on-time, on-budget you can still end up with a rubbish building…


A – You loose sight of… S – But within their narrow definition they’re not to blame. That’s where the real danger lies. And it’s like anything, it’s about the calibre of the individual. A – So I suppose Playgrounding, in a way, devolves responsibility because it makes all those people responsible for not just delivering their bit but for the quality of the overall… S – for the creative output of the process and that’s revolutionary. As soon as you make a project manager responsible for the creative output rather than just the procedural output then suddenly they become protagonists and empathetic with the creative design process, rather than standing on the sidelines ‘well this is all very well but you’ve changed your mind twice already and you can only change your mind three times according to the contract’. A – I just started thinking about Teatro Oficina and the people involved in that. Do you think it’s possible, and if anywhere’s possible then BAC probably is, but Lina Bo Bardi worked on that space for the last ten year of her life…ten years… S – That seems about right to me – I don’t see how you can do it much less. You want to have the space to make a proposition architecturally, see how it works, tweak it, understand it, accept where it works and where it doesn’t and evolve it. That seems to me to be the luxury of working with buildings that have been around for 100 years and will be around for another 100 years you have got time to actually go back and reconsider and maybe that’s part of what’s special about BAC is an acceptance that we’re dealing with slow architecture. We don’t parachute in, hit the headlines, and disappear on to the next icon. It’s about a really genuine emotional, intellectual, engagement with the place which goes on and is a proper relationship, so it’s a committed relationship. A – I thought it was interesting those talks they gave about the Curve. S – It was like Charles and Diana. A – Both talking but neither of them looking S – Both of them looking in opposite directions. A – And her saying I met him but the time it was built it was no longer an interesting project. Oh it’s made, boring, next thing. I suppose it’s the opposite of that. That is the other thing from looking at what’s happened to BAC, I get the sense that BAC will always always be in the middle of stages A to B S – Serial feasibility study A – It will by the end have changed and the interventions will have happened and it will have increased its capability to do x, y or z but it will always feel.. S – I think that’s so interesting. I think you’re probably right to an extent in that in some ways the most important part of the process is pumping ideas in to the early stages of the process. And then letting them go, letting them be and not… (Tape change)


A – Obviously one of the massive challenges of a process like Playgrounding is to the actual infrastructure of A-M, not just the ideas, it’s about how architects get paid, the legal infrastructure of it… S – I think that’s as interesting as anything because it’s the thing that I believe stops us having more projects like because there is still a mentality of well we’ve got to make a profit, otherwise we’ll go bankrupt, there’s few architects working off private incomes. You’ve got to run a business. So to have conversations like this you’ve got to streamline it, and I don’t know how, so it’s still cost effective. And just talking to David just now, I think the answer to that is probably to keep the conversation quite tight for as long as possible. A – You mean with not too many people. S – Yes. If we’d done this project again you wonder whether it would have just been a longer conversation between individuals until the brief and the ideas had somehow crystallised and that’s fairly cheap, and then bring in a design team. I don’t know if that’s right or not. Because the design team I work with and my team in the studio, they are all artists in their own right. A – And you think about what those people have already contributed. S – Enormous amounts. Maybe that’s rubbish. But there might be a point where you would extend the me and Felix and David moment for a month longer and you could just edit out a few of the cul de sacs we went down before we had to have a design team involved. A – But then surely you get in to the process of trying to evaluate which I suppose you have to anyway financially, of how many cul de sacs are ok. S – Sure. But I think I’m saying you can have as many cul de sacs as you like… A –It’s how many people you take down them. S – If you’ve got a design team of 15 people coming with you it’s not financially sustainable either for the client or the design team. And also there is it’s not a universal joy to go down 15 cul de sacs. A lot of people in design team up to a point say, let’s have the idea and let’s follow it. A – Not everyone wants to be part of that process of having the wrong idea and.. S – Not to the same extent. There’s an enjoyment about swilling round the possibilities. BAC is an extreme example. The Grand Hall was a really interesting example. We took it a long way, spent a lot of money developing an idea, which we then abandoned, summarily, for the right reasons, but if we’re going to do that again, we probably wouldn’t have gone about it in that way, A – with all those people.. S – we would have pissed that much money at it. We wouldn’t have spent that much design team time. A – Who do you think should have been there during that process? You, Emma, David,


S – Vicky, Gavin probably. A – So a few more of those moments that we had in the Grand Hall that morning S – Yes but with less people. In a way that was the high watermark of my frustration with the process. Where there was lots of people, the lines of communication and authorship were absolutely foggy. And even to the extent, you know, probably through my own fault, wasn’t aware how far the process had gone and where the authorial voice was lying at the time. And because I’ve got a huge amount of time for Vicky and I respect her enormously I felt inhibited about saying ‘I’m not sure about that’ or ‘could we look at it another way’ because it was unclear how far the conversation had gone in one direction. So there’s an underlying discipline about these processes which will make the free exploration more efficient more productive. I think it’s a mistake to think of it as let’s all just everyone sit around talk about it until we’re exhausted. I don’t think that’s the way the answer lies. Maybe we’ve been guilty of that. A – The way you were describing it earlier reminds me exactly of how someone like Emma Rice makes work. Because instead of someone like Katie Mitchell you walks in to a rehearsal room with Monday morning 10am we’re going to do x y z and then we’re going to break for lunch, and her work is absolutely incredible, stunning, whereas Emma walks in an goes ‘so, maybe we should’ and she just starts doing things where I think if you are part of that process, depending on what kind of person you are, can feel really unsafe, there are actors who get towards the moment where they have to talk out on stage and they say ‘I don’t what I’m doing’ S – But that is a particular skill that architects acquire, like directors. Comfort with uncertainty. Really far in to the process and actually giving out confident signals. Right up to the moment where you think ‘it’s too late, I’m fucked’. The bigger project the more adept you have to be. A – Somebody talking to the Davids said ‘it’s all very well you working like this but Steve Tompkins is the only architect in the whole of England who is prepared to work like that’ She was intimating that it would never be repeated. I suppose that’s partly because it challenges the actual basic process S – structure – challenges the whole DNA of the transaction, that’s what it does. A – But then there’s also how many architects, young architects, who are prepared to be uncertain. S – I think there are dozens. There’s a whole generation of architects who are absolutely born in to that process and I think the process we’ve come from will look increasingly old fashioned. That might be the single most important thing that changes from this generation of architects to the next, is that relinquishing of that sort of auteur authorship, thinking the client doesn’t know what they want and it’s my job to. A – inform them S – yes, and that whole cliché that the client will only know what they want when they see it, which strikes me as so fucking arrogant, as if you’re dealing with children, that you the god, not only the form giver but the idea giver, the brief giver, the person who is solely responsible.


A – There was a lot of talk about that at the conference, you know the client doesn’t always know what they want. S – And sometimes it’s true. You’re dealing with a local authority client who says ‘er, we need a theatre’ A – Yes, then you are the artist. S – Then you’re the artist, then you’re the director. But if you’re dealing with BAC, the National, the Royal Court, the Young Vic, for God’s sake. And of course you’re absolutely struggling to keep up with the brief making process which is why we always spend so long trying to understand what the hell’s going on. And it’s only at the point when you feel you know as much about the organisation as they do that you start to run with it, you start to extrapolate what they and who they are, it can take many forms, you know you can decide they don’t need the building at all, they need a change of department, a change of personnel, they need a divorce, anything. But I think that’s the architect’s job is to not always unerringly advice towards the object which you can then photograph and go in to your portfolio. A – I remember you saying that at the beginning that ‘we may end up doing no architecture’. Which I think is amazing. S – Yes, well it’s amazingly expensive, that’s the trouble. A sceptic would say, nice work if you can get it, you spend two years fucking about, you get paid through the nose and you end up doing nothing, what’s that all about Mr. Architect? And you know fair point. So there’s always balance. A – What I haven’t managed to imagine is how a process like Playgrounding could contribute towards making new buildings. Other than spending longer in the design phase. How would you set out on a new build? S – Well Snape is interesting for that. Where it’s half refurb and half rebuild. Where the place became the client on that job. A – What do you mean by that? S – I felt my prime responsibility and my prime informant was a sense of place. And because the brief was relatively straightforward and the clients aspirations were relatively straightforward. A – So what you were going to gain traction from S – Yes, so the intellectual transaction was with the place. And that’s not necessarily an existing building it’s about a situation. So I think you can playground place and you can playground time in the same way that you can playground the physical fabric of an existing context. And so the site doesn’t necessarily have to be tangible physical raw material A – But everywhere offers you something S – Yes I think so and you expand your definition of site where it gives you sufficient information to conduct a similar methodological interrogation of the project. So it’s about neighbourhood, it’s about city, it’s about society, about cultural memory. And it can be a flat site.


A – What about trying things out like Scratch? S – More difficult. You’d have to expand your timeframe in to your previous portfolio of work I guess. Or in to precedent. But I think the context for the project I think expands until it contains enough raw material to purchase on. With BAC that’s like white dwarf because it’s so dense that you hardly need to look outside the walls because it’s got it’s own gravitational field which is incredibly powerful. Other projects would be more diffuse and you’d need to gather more material from further afield. But specificity is what drives our practice as a studio. A – One of the main differences between theatre and architecture is the timescale that they operate on. And you talked about slow architecture. S – I’ll tell you my Star Trek anecdote. (Laughter) S – I was just telling David and he’d seen the same episode. There’s this brilliant seminal Star Trek episode where one half has been infected by some kind of bug where one half of appears to the other so slow they are not actually moving at all, they are just frozen, because their timescale, it’s such a brilliant idea, whereas the other half are moving so fast that to the slow half that it’s just like this it’s just this *makes whizzing sound+ it’s like this high pitched whining – and that’s theatre and architecture they are just completely analogous. And my job, I think, is to kind of [more noise] wrench those timescales somehow together so that one at last is listening to the other. A – The one thing that’s similar is the specificity. The one thing that theatre has is this need to be specific. So for each show there’s this incredibly specific world which you create and the danger I think when an architect comes in that we have been plagued by for the previous ten years is the need to be multi-purpose ‘we want to do this in the space and that in the space’ and the architect suddenly thinks well I have to provide a blank canvass in order for theatre makers to be specific. Whereas actually that may not be the most helpful thing in order for an artist to be specific. S – I mean blank is just dull isn’t it? And so I think as artists we have to provide the canvass but it doesn’t have to be blank. And it’s that sort of under painting of, to a certain point, perhaps, and that’s where the judgement of each project comes in, the extent to which you lock down the narrative of the building. A – That’s the difficulty for an architect S – Sure. I don’t know if it is a difficulty it’s a different relationship to your ego, certainly. And also the fallacy of the cryogenically frozen moment that you create as a lone creative genius and there it is forever. And it never changes. And it never can change. A – Isn’t that what Denys Lasdun said about the National? S – It’s what I was just about to say is that it’s what I am negotiating at the National. I think there’s a sort of lazy version of the National is so perfect and so tightly wrought that it can never change or should never change whereas Lasden said the opposite. He said ‘there are certain things about this building which are permanent and it’s obvious to anyone who understands the building what’s


permanent. And I’ve also designed in other layers of mutability. And people that unlock the narrative of this building will understand what those layers are and they will be able to work with it and it will be fine and it will have my blessing’. That’s how I am mythologizing the project in a Jungian sense. That’s how I am justifying to myself. A – The way I understood it that he viewed the architecture of the space of the theatre of the space as two almost completely separate things. And he said that you can play with the theatre but that the architecture is not your business. S – That’s an over simplification. I think he was a much more impressive mind than that. He knew that the building would both be a catalyst to and subject to change, urban change. And I think he would have fully expected the building to change and hopefully in the hands of somebody who was sympathetic to his narratives. I am. We are. It’s an extraordinary building. I can now draw a plan or section at the National, verbatim. It’s like learning the Quran. It’s like I have been to the Madrasa for two years. I was saying to David earlier on, the National and BAC they are so parallel as propositions. Because they are both intensely beautiful powerful complex spaces. They both need exchange. They are both to some extent intractable and tightly wound and they both have this incredibly strong presence and yet they are both on a creative roll, both doing extraordinary things in their own ways, and they need that mediating layer of new stuff to help them deal with what they are doing within the confines of their spaces. And they both love their spaces and they’re both maddened by their spaces. And the public are probably in the same position for different reasons. But either project is extraordinary but to have them running at the same time. It should be a complete headfuck but it’s not to be constantly learning from one to the other. It’s a complete joy. A – I suppose they both share fundamentally the fact that you walk in and get lost. S – But also you get transported by them in their own ways. They are both transporting spaces. A – The last thing was a bit about what’s actually planned for BAC. So there are five.. S – Fuck knows (Laughter) A – Well what is currently planned for BAC. I wrote down the five…which is interesting because I have been at BAC for a year and a half, two years almost now, and there are five key things that we said we were going to do, and I can never remember exactly what they are. So I have got: first floor; home; lift access, garden, courtyard theatre, those are lumped in to one; grand hall, town hall road; infrastructure. S – So the idea is that the building keep its mystique, its allure and its direct availability to artists but somehow it has the capability within itself that you don’t always have to go back right to square one every time you want to engage with the building. So you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time which is exhausting and expensive and a drain on energy. So on one level it’s about bringing the potential capability of the building through infrastructure. And in a way I’d say that’s almost the most important project for the building. A – The thing that will make the biggest difference.


S – I think it will and it will make a difference in the positive sense, work will be easier to make, more work will be made, more safely, and less expensively. The draw back is of course that you once you deproblematise the building it becomes more frictionless and there’s good and bad in that. So when you engage with a raw found space and you have to have that first complete virgin relationship you can probably never recreate that, and everybody’s tried and nobody’s succeeded. And so I think the building has to move on it can’t adopt that sort of disingenuous virginity because that would start to look ersatz and branded, the found space experience, rather than the found space. A – You end up with something Globe like S – Yes but more sadder. It is now genuine, authentic, original and whereas the Globe never was. And so it’s fine as far as I’m concerned for what it is. But I think you have to take on that relationship with authenticity to the point where it’s moving forward and constantly drilling edge on what you want to do with the space. It would be easy to turn it into a sort of heritage experience. It becomes sort of facile, found space, no problems, risk free, churn it out, do another Red Death, do a yet another Red Death, or another, or yet another. More or less. And so how does the architect to give clues about how you could make that more complicated and how you could start to engage that with the contemporary and the political because there is a wonderful political continuity as well as a physical continuity because of the Town Hall being what it is and its history. I think that’s really interesting. And for me that’s something we as architects can take on and try and somehow make manifest. And I don’t know how you do that, no idea yet. Early days yet. And I am glad we don’t how to do it. Because it would the wrong answer. So that’s one thing and the other is to make the building more available and more serious, add both light and dark. My reaction to the Town Hall is that you could sort of encapsulate it in to a recurring nightmare I had as a kid where I’d be in my house with my family all around me having a party, it would be playtime, light positive, supportive but then something would happen and I’d be made to go downstairs and answer the door, and I’d be banished from my family. And I was would be in a space that I didn’t understand that I felt frightened by anxious by and as I got downstairs there would be this kind of monster lurking there waiting for me and I’d wake up in a sweat. I think BAC has the potential to have both of those scenes implicit in it. And if we bowdlerise the building to where it has only the light, the playful, the accessible, the friendly and the welcoming all of which are the buzz words without which we would be banished to the inner most circles of hell by the establishment. So there’s that. But there’s also the possibility of working with the darkness of the space, the bits that are frightening, being alone in a building at night. Without quite enough light. And strange noises. A – The building lives. [Anecdote about staying in the building late and hearing all the strange noise the building makes on its own.] S – That’s the thing to commandeer somehow. That’s the thing to protect. I think it would be a failure if we did a sort of lottery number where everything that was difficult or frightening was expunged…


Appendix 9 Questions answered by David Jubb, in an email, 12 July 2009

A] First stint at BAC as Development Producer: 1. How did Scratch start? Work-in-progress sharings existed in the mid 90’s at BAC and other London theatres including Oval House; often followed by post-show discussions. But these work-in-progress showings were isolated in that there was no ongoing developmental opportunities for artists to create work over a long period of time. There were some exceptions. For example I ran a programme at the Lion & Unicorn Pub Theatre from 1998-1999 where artists could present work-in-progress for three nights in every two month season; some of these shows then ended up having a three week run at the pub theatre. But while the structure was consciously attempting to develop artists and their work over time, there was no conscious invitation to the audience to feedback on the work or a developmental frame that engaged artist and audience in any kind of structured creative dialogue. The catalyst to change was the creation of a work-in-progress night at BAC when four or five artists each presented up to ten minutes of an early draft of an idea. The first “Scratch Night” was presented in January 2000 in The Shape of Things to Come season. The journey to this first Scratch Night began in several places. In the British Festival of Visual Theatre 1999 at BAC we programmed The Lion & Unicorn Night of Glee; this was a sprawling, seemingly endless night of cabaret theatre with around a dozen artists trying out ideas in front of an audience sparked a debate at BAC about presenting short work-in-progress pieces to audiences. In the artist’s brainstorming meeting that Autumn there was a discussion about the format of possible Scratch Night and Kazuko Hohki coined the term “scratch” as an appropriate starting place for ideas. Tom Morris had long been thinking about how best to support artists and their developing work and BAC’s programme was ripe for a structured model. In the Autumn of 1999 Tom and I (I became the “Development Producer” at BAC in August 1999) also worked together to develop ideas around the “ladder of development” which was a structured approach to developing work over time. We also worked to develop other approaches to supporting artists at this time including the way we managed BAC’s relationship with artists from first contact to an evolving relationship over years through new programmes like the Supported Artist and Associate Artist programmes. The first Scratch Night was presented in the Council Chamber in January 2000 and included Niall Ashdown’s first scratch of Hungarian Bird Festival. There was an audience of about 30. 2. Describe Tom’s approach to programming (can you mention what Shock of the New means please?) I think there were three reasons why Tom programmed visiting productions (that had not been developed at BAC) which probably represented about half of the programme in 1999: the story interested Tom and was told in an interesting way; that Tom wanted the artist community (the artist brainstorming list) to have an opportunity to see the work; there was a potential public audience for the work. There were probably loads of other reasons too that I was less aware of - but the thing I remember most was that Tom’s programming approach was brilliantly instinctive. The same was true


for developing work through Scratch; an additional factor in this side of the programme was Tom’s own ability to dramaturgically support the development of the work; a vital factor in the success of many shows at BAC during this period. The Shock of the New was a regular name that cropped up as a potential title for seasons or festivals at BAC. I think Tom loved what it represented; he understood the mission of BAC to create new theatre and he was keen to present new ideas as if they were a bolt from the blue. I remember seeing a drawing in Tom’s office one day of a rhinoceros and commenting it was my favourite wild animal. Tom said he’d had an idea for the front of BAC or the front of a theatre space for a massive sculptured rhinoceros smashing through the theatre wall. I think that rhinoceros, like the red cubes on the front of the building that Tom commissioned years later, are examples of how Tom is interested in “surprise” as one of the most vital and inspirational qualities in theatre. One of the questions on the feedback forms at BAC while Tom was Artistic Director was something like “what was the most surprising thing about the performance?” I remember Tom telling me when I started at BAC as Artistic Director how important it was to make sure those questions on Scratch feedback forms reflected what you expected from the work you wanted to develop. Surprise was one of his big things. 3. Describe the approach to space, in terms of programming, during that time I arrived in 1999 after the BAC capital proposals of the mid 90s had crashed and burned due to over commitment of lottery cash to other capital projects. Space was very rarely discussed in programming meetings. We used the Main House and two studios. Studio 2 was used for more experimental work. Studio 1 for more traditional plays and studio theatre productions. The Main House tended to be used for more traditional work or successful experiments that had grown through Scratch. For example, at the top end of the “ladder of development” in 2000 the rungs went from three week run in a studio, to a two to three night run in the Main House in a festival, to a three week run in the Main House. There was a very clear hierarchy. Other parts of the building were occasionally used: the foyer; the attic; the gallery. But the focus of the production team’s efforts was on servicing the three theatre spaces and ensuring they ran as smoothly. I think it was the producing team – the introduction of Louise Blackwell, Richard Dufty, Kate McGrath and others – who started working with artists across more of the space over time. There was a democratisation of the programming process during this time, specifically as Tom spent more and more time in rehearsal rooms supporting or creating work, and needed others to develop and deliver the programme. I think the interest in work in different parts of the building grew as did the producing team’s greater access to programming decisions during the years 2000 – 2004. 4. Could you define Tom Morris’ relationship with the building? Are there any moments you recall in particular that could illustrate this? I perhaps know more about it now than I did in 1999/2000. Now I know about Tom’s intended plans for the building and the creation of formal theatre spaces across the site of the town hall. I know that Tom was interested in converting the Town Hall in to a series of well equipped working theatre spaces and create an extraordinary place for artists and audiences to hang out. I also know that these plans didn’t come off – something which I think is a good thing; for two reasons. Firstly I think the plans would have hamstrung BAC to present work in ways governed by the limitations of the theatre spaces. Secondly it meant that Tom went on to focus on developing, producing and directing work which was massively beneficial to British theatre and BAC.


I don’t think Tom loved the building. I also think his relationship with the building was mixed up in his relationship with the Council who provided a reducing pot of funding to BAC, managed the building and provided relatively short leases to BAC. When I applied for the role of Artistic Director I asked Tom to help me think about the job and whether it was for me. I remember one of the pieces of advice he gave me was to think about whether BAC should be based in the Town Hall or not. Whilst Tom was giving me a really important strategic tip, to think about the organisation’s relationship with the building, I thought that the reason he asked that question spoke volumes about his relationship with the space. I think if he’d have stayed on at BAC he would have looked for a different home for the organisation. 5. What brought you and Tom Morris together? I was running a pub theatre (Lion & Unicorn) in Kentish Town for Central School of Speech and Drama. Tom came to a night I’d programmed with David Rosenberg and Hannah Ringham (from Shunt) and after that night invited me in for a chat at BAC. We talked together about the Lion’s programme and how it might connect to BAC. We agreed that the Lion’s programme would be part of the British Festival of Visual Theatre at BAC in 1999; there were sometimes satellite parts of the festival in different venues. Soon after that conversation the role of Development Producer was advertised at BAC; a new role supporting artists. I applied for the job and got it. We worked together for 18 months at BAC and then I set up an independent producing company based in the building with Tom’s support. What brought us together, as two people passionate about making theatre, apart from a friendship, was the relationship between artist and audience. The brochure of the British Festival of Visual Theatre 2000 shows the face of Mike Shepherd on one side and Benji Reid on the other, close up, looking in to your eyes as you stare back. The potential of that look between artists and audience was what mutually excited us both: to create that festival, and others like it, together, as works of passion. 6. What would you say was Tom’s focus as Artistic Director? What was his legacy to the organisation? His mission was creating “high quality, surprising” work through the “creative collaboration of artists, staff and public”. I think he was true to that mission. I think there was often a tension between a conscious drive for experimental new theatre practice that tore down the walls of theatre, like a rhinoceros, and rather more formal experiments in traditional form which felt as though they were a comfortable part of theatre orthodoxy. His legacies to the organisation are manifold: a reputation as a groundbreaking UK arts organisation; a massively more stable funding position with Arts Council England; the artist centred support structures of the organisation. B] Second stint at BAC as Artistic Director:

7. Can you trace where the idea to work more flexibly with the building came from? During my four years running an independent producing company in the building I explored the building in various ways: occupying at least three different offices; finding nooks and crannies for


rehearsals; and even sleeping in discreet corners (in secret) when I didn’t have anywhere to live. I got to know the building very well; I’d begun to enjoy it as a friend and even confidante. In terms of my work on the BAC programme, as Artistic Director, in 2004, after an absolutely awful start to being Artistic Director, making 4 staff redundant, due to a Wandsworth funding cut, I programmed Summer Holiday with the team. We turfed the foyer, created a beach, put artists in different spaces in the building, wherever available, and ran a three week August festival of scratching new ideas. It was the first thing I programmed with the team. After the gloom of redundancies hung over the organisation like a bad smell, Summer Holiday felt like a breath of fresh air. In 2005 I went further with these building experiments. After a couple of producing team members left to set up Fuel, which we helped them with through a Jerwood & BAC bursary, I recruited a new fledgling team. I programmed OctoberFest: Is Theatre Any Good? in which there was a short theatre night BLINK in around 8 spaces across the building and the first Trashy Multi-Artform Bingo Blowout Party which was, as it suggests, a night of multi-disciplinary work presented roughly in the context of lots of drinking and dancing. I sometimes enjoyed the audience’s journey around the building during these nights as much as the work; there was a sense of adventure and investment from audiences that excited me; an active, creative audience making choices about how they wanted to experience the work. I had been strongly influenced by mixed by nights like those run by OMSK in the mid 1990’s in 333 Old Street where work was presented all over the club. There were also lots of fragmented but important moments of experiencing the building and organisation during the first two years of my Artistic Directorship: walking in to the Grand Hall when events were on, marvelling at the scale and sheer fun of the space and wondering why we didn’t use the space more flexibly; seeing youth theatre shows one after the other in the same space (over a period of weeks) and wondering why we didn’t programme them all on the same night all over the building; going on late night walks around the building and thinking it was my playground to work in with the artists I chose and the sheer excitement of that feeling; programming and experiencing The Yellow Wallpaper by Punchdrunk in the BAC attic in OctoberFest 2005 and experiencing the sheer theatricality of the building; thinking about ways to earn more money through the way we used space; getting ever shorter leases from Wandsworth Borough Council and being reminded of Tom Morris’ question about considering BAC independently of the Town Hall, and feeling more and more passionately that BAC’s success was, in part, because of the Town Hall rather than despite the Town Hall; going through the organisation’s 25 year archive of Board papers and programmes on a three week holiday in Spain in June 2006 and realising that BAC’s artists had definitely drawn inspiration from a space that was not a theatre; and that our task was to turn the building back in to the found space it really was and stop trying to tame it in to being a crap theatre. 8. At what point did that idea solidify into working with an architect? After a Board meeting in Spring 2006 in which I’d talked about the building and the idea of opening some of the spaces for artist use, Nick Starr, BAC’s Chair and Executive Director of the National Theatre, stayed on after the meeting and looked over some drawings of the space with the senior management team. Nick suggested meeting Steve Tompkins from Haworth Tompkins. I hadn’t thought of meeting an architect before then. Nick is passionate about buildings. He did the two temporary Almeida Theatres, the National Theatre Studios, he understood the process and must have instinctively known that there was a good connection to be made with Steve: a personality match as much as a good fit of idea and ambition. Nick also helped me understand the first formal piece of work with Steve (which turned out to be Fuzzy Logic) from a financial point of view. Architect fees are potentially eye watering in comparison to the analogous commissioning fees for other artists in an


arts centre’s programme but Nick, as Chair, was able to help me think about BAC’s finances differently; considering revenue and capital income streams as one and to think flexibly about risk and reserves; a lesson that still benefits BAC three years later. The idea of working with an architect was Nick Starr’s; I think I was happy to just imagine we’d do it ourselves. 9. What made you think Steve T. was the right architect? When I met Steve I thought he was a brilliant mix of an artist and a producer: someone with visionary ideas who could also articulate how they might happen….even if he wasn’t really sure, I believed he could make them happen. It reminded me of meeting David Woods and Jon Haynes, Emma Rice, Felix Barret, Toby Jones…people whose energy and ideas you quickly come to love. At one point during our first meeting on a hot summer’s day in 2006 in BAC’s courtyard, I was describing the plans with Punchdrunk, opening the building up, the idea of an arts centre living inside the world of a show, the creative and financial risks involved. At one point of the conversation I became anxious that I might sound too certain, too clear as to the direction I was following, too much like an expert, and I said, honestly, that I was making it up as I went along. Steve said: “ah, a man after my own heart” and that felt very good. He was someone I didn’t have to pretend with; it’s a ridiculously rare thing for brilliant people like Steve to show vulnerability, to show that they’re out on a limb, that they’re sometimes not sure what the next move is; I don’t want to work with anyone that knows exactly what they’re doing all the time, what would be the point of collaborating with someone where there was no risk involved? You’d know the outcome before you started. 10. Can you pinpoint any key moments in your conversation with Steve / Felix around MORD that led to the idea of Playgrounding? I think it was simply the two parallel conversations, in the context of two years of thinking about the building and programming, which made sense of playgrounding as an idea. The conversation with Felix was about how an arts centre could live inside the world of a show. The conversation with Steve was about how the energy and character of the building and how to turn up the voltage to the benefit of artists, audiences and staff. Through the building and programming thinking I had been doing for the last two years I’d come to a realisation that the building was so important for artists because it wasn’t a theatre but a found space which acted as a provocation for new theatre and new ways of working. It was the combination of these elements that led quite naturally to the idea of the building as a playground for artists and audiences. When the conversations came together for the first time there was also a key moment that I’ve described to many people since; when trying to describe playgrounding. Steve, Felix and I were meeting together as a three for the first time. Walking around the building, talking about plans for The Masque of the Red Death by Punchdrunk and BAC. Felix was talking about fire and how it was an important icon in some of Edgar Allan Poe’s work. Steve said ‘well you know there’s fifteen or so fireplaces in the building, why don’t we open one of them up and light stories in the show by firelight.’ Felix’s excitement for the potential magic of this in the show was matched by my excitement of the legacy of that fireplace in the building. I think it was a moment when theory fell easily in to practice and I realised the idea had legs. 11. Can you define Playgrounding? There is a document I have assembled called “BAC Capital Development” that has a good definition of the playgrounding process we’re using. Something that document does not say is where the use of


the word playground came from. There is a Board paper that was prepared that described the idea in which I called it the creation of a “theatrical village”. The idea of playground came from children using a space to create a thousand different worlds. In any playground there are structured areas for play but there is also space to just run about and corners to hang out in. Exciting playgrounds are spaces are both equipped and free wheeling for the imagination. The idea of playgrounding is simply about artists, staff and audiences doing what we all used to do in our playgrounds, creating flexible worlds in which anything could happen. And often the very best and most exciting games were not the ones that happened on the apparatus provided for us by clever adults, designed for our benefit, but were the parts of the playground where we could create our own worlds. 12. What are the challenges you face in using Playgrounding as a process and keeping it buoyant? 1. How do you create an authorial arc over the project over five or more years that involves many different artists? In many ways it is the same challenge that a Director has to create a robust dramaturgical structure through a piece in which dozens of artists collaborate. How do we work with artists to engage them in the playgrounding process across the entire programme but create enough consistency of vision to ensure 2. Playgrounding offers less challenges to how you might design a building – it is effectively an extended research and development process for design – but offers more profound challenges to the ways of delivering a building project because we are undertaking ‘improvisatory’ building projects through the project’s duration. This is a challenge to RIBA Plan of Works; funding guidelines with their mandatory procurement procedures; English Heritage listing processes; legal liability for carrying out building works. How does the project management system for delivering building projects enhance and develop (rather than crush) the creative and playful aspirations of the project? 3. How do you truly integrate the process (the work of the space team at BAC) with the rest of the organisation’s activities? This is a mixture of a creative and project management challenge: providing clear leadership and enabling a wide and open engagement in the project process. How do the organisation’s other activity programmes – theatre, participate, events – all become meaningfully involved in the process of opening up and developing the building? 13. In what way does Playgrounding challenge the established RIBA A to M process? The RIBA process is about clearly delineated project stages with clear sign off from one project management group to another. It is partly designed to protect one party from another and ensure liability is clearly carried. I can’t comment on how well it does or doesn’t operate in the day to day construction industry, though general knowledge tells us that plenty of people in that industry who must be using the RIBA process are busy suing each other. My challenge to the A-M RIBA process in the context in which I am working at BAC is that demarcation of territory and clarification of liability can discourage collaboration and actively encourage the passivity of the “client”. A-M actively promotes the role of the “expert” in process and the deferment of liability to that “expertise”. I think the danger is that collective responsibility is diminished. I would argue that pure (often iconic) singular visions can lead to extraordinary pieces of art, to stunning buildings, that are often also quite dysfunctional. And that more collaborative processes that are “tuned in” to the desires of the people that will use the building lead to buildings that can also be great pieces of art but that also function. A trip to Sao Paulo to see the work on Niemeyer versus Lina Bo Bardi is testament to this. Playgrounding’s challenge to the RIBA process is the breaking down of the “architect” / “client” relationship. The space team at BAC includes everyone engaged in the project and is beginning to explore how liabilities can be shared between team members conscious of the high stakes of their


collaboration. See the document “Meeting - Steve Tompkins & David Jubb. Swaines Lane - 6th July 2009” that are my notes from a meeting with Steve recently. 14. Describe a space transformation that has been successful because of the playgrounding process. See the Capital Development document for description of Masque of the Red Death and how this project successfully opened up the Town Hall and profoundly changed the way we think about the building. Kneehigh Theatre’s Don John was a catalyst for change in BAC’s Grand Hall. One of the challenges of the Grand Hall is that the largest access point is a set of double doors leading in to the space. So unless, like the 1900 Hope-Jones organ, set pieces and equipment can be assembled in the space, piece by piece, the potential for live event is massively reduced by what you can simply fit through the Hall doors. Putting a large scale touring production in to the space was a great way of testing a new way of working. And Kneehigh, who have created work on cliff-tops, down tin mines, in traditional theatres and in village halls, were a great partner with whom to carry out that experiment. They are masters at presenting their work in different contexts and using space to their advantage. Director Emma Rice, Designer Vicky Mortimer, Architect worked Steve Tompkins worked with David Micklem and I to create a 470 seat temporary auditorium in the space that would both accommodate Don John and open up the space for more flexible use. The legacy of the experiment is better access facilities off street and in to the building, also access in to the actual space, improved technical infrastructure in the Hall enabling us to run a much wider range of events in the space, a partial restoration of the Hope-Jones organ, ideas for developing the space further. The project was a second moment of playgrounding in the Hall after Masque of the Red Death had encouraged us to see the space as both a performance space and a connected part of the whole building. Red Death led us to create a meeting in the building every week called the One Building Meeting where we would talk about operational provision across the whole footprint of the Town Hall because ever since the arts centre moved in to the space there had been a spiritual and operational divide between the two halves of the building. Don John as a second moment of improvisation or playgrounding led us to see even more new opportunities in the space. It is an interesting example of playgrounding because prior to Don John we had commissioned Haworth Tompkins to complete a “stage D” RIBA report on the Grand Hall to help us raise funds for works to the space and because it felt like ‘the right thing to do’. The report proposed a wide ranging scope of works. For Don John we only completed about £150,000 worth of work to just enable the show: pulling back from much of the proposed scope which involved some significant infrastructure moves. Two weeks ago I met Steve Tompkins to discuss the next stage of the Grand Hall project. Steve’s inspiration was to think about the Hall as a space in which to mark out a sustainable approach to the general capital project at BAC. For example, he talked about putting wood burners in to the Hall and running projects with local people to source sustainable sources of skipped wood. So a year on from Stage D on the Grand Hall and the debate around sustainability had become stronger across the arts, in architecture and in global politics. BAC had also hosted the national Transition Towns conference in the Grand Hall in May 2009 and Steve had had long conversations with Lucy Neal (in the Transition Town movement) about the idea of a Battersea Transition Town. The point being that the world and BAC had changed over that year. And that the playgrounding process – which is essentially an ongoing way of looking at building development – rather than a “do it and it’s done” approach – had enabled these new ideas around creating a sustainable building to evolve over time and building use. If during the year leading up to that conversation with Steve, the stage D report had


moved through stages E to K, based on the design in stage D, it would have been too late for the Hall to adopt the wood burner approach – at least not without a great deal of waste and ripping out of previous ideas. Playgrounding is an approach that keeps things flexible and enables buildings to evolve according to current thinking rather than lock them down in to an ideal in a fixed moment of time. 15. Have there been any mistakes (assuming we know that making mistakes is part of the process)? We have sometimes not put artists in the driving seat of changes. And we’ve developed spaces to be more “fit for purpose”. So for example, for the sake of improved income from the Events strand we have recently developed the first floor spaces in the front half of the building. We have cleaned them up, polished the floorboards, put 21st century looking radiators on the walls, painted the walls single respectable colours. In searching for an orthodox feel for a space that might be attractive to our generic idea of an “events client” we have bleached out some of what is interesting about the space: the history; the stories; the memories. The central problem with the First Floor project is that we didn’t put an artist in charge. Artists tend to be interested in story, in what’s authentic and therefore in my experience they have always celebrated what is already there. That’s not to say that they haven’t wanted to find new stories, or to tell their own stories in the context of the Town Hall space but my favourite artists are ones that are not scared of what’s already present, of what the space used to be, of the hybrid potential of their own work and the space as it stands. On the First Floor project we were neither employing artists or using the architect as artist (Steve wasn’t involved in the project) and it led to the voltage (as Steve calls it) of the space being turned down. Mistake. 16. Describe the courtyard / foyer theatre and where that idea came from (this is a leading the witness question to talk about the links between playgrounding and Lina BB’s work at Teatro Oficina) It comes from Teatro Oficina in Sao Paolo. This is a space that I saw in 2007 and which there is a description of in the Capital Development document. The foyer is one of the most problematic spaces at BAC because it is essentially used as a big corridor. It always feels transitional and empty. As it is also the space that welcomes you to the building, the first space you walk in to: that’s not a great way to make people feel at home. Teatro Oficina was in some ways, also a corridor, in that it was imagined as a foyer space leading to a larger theatre space: a project that was never built. But Lina Bo Bardi and Ze Celso (spelling) turned it in to an incredibly dynamic performance space that is inspiration for the kind of flexible theatre auditorium that is relatively unexplored in the UK. It is a heretical theatre space that says there is no orthodox way of making theatre. Whilst Ze Celso (spelling) uses the space in quite a specific way for his own practice, it also has the potential to be used in a hundred different ways in terms of the relationship between audience and artist. Try saying that about an orthodox space like the Olivier theatre.


List of Illustrations

Fig. 1

Battersea Town Hall, postcard c. 1894 Source: Battersea Local History Library, MISC. File 725.13 BATT Red brick and Monks Park Bath stone shell Source: Allegra Galvin 2009 Battersea Town Hall, postcard c. 1894 Source: Battersea Local History Library, MISC. File 725.13 BATT Plan of ground floor and east elevation, Battersea Arts Centre th Source: The Builder, 19 December 1891 East corridor ending in a flight of stairs Source: Battersea Arts Centre archive (photos taken during The Masque of the Red Death) Mosaic floor in Octagonal Hall, outside the Grand Hall Source: Haworth Tompkins Architects, 2008 Dome of Octagonal Hall Source: Haworth Tompkins Architects, 2008 Mosaic floor in entrance foyer Source: Haworth Tompkins Architects, 2008 Entrance foyer of Battersea Arts Centre Source: Battersea Arts Centre archive

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

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Fig. 9

Fig. 10 Plan of ground floor changes made to the middle of the building, 1899 Source: Battersea Local History Library Fig. 11 Plan of first floor changes made to the middle of the building, 1899 Source: Battersea Local History Library Fig.12 Plan of first floor changes made to the middle of the building, 1925 Source:

Fig. 13 Plan of first floor changes made to the middle of the building,1934 Source: Battersea Local History Library Fig. 14 Plan of new staircase and landing to the first floor, 1899 Source: Battersea Local History Library Fig. 15 Social Entertainment Brochure for 1959-60 Source: Battersea Local History Library, MISC. File 725.13 BATT


Fig. 16 Plan for redevelopment of Battersea Arts Centre into leisure centre with library and swimming pool Source: Battersea Local History Library Fig.17 Postcard showing Battersea Arts Centre and the Shakespeare Theatre side-by-side on Lavender Hill (c.1900) Source: Theatres Trust archive

Fig. 18 Newspaper clipping of raked seating going into the council chamber, c.1981 Source: Battersea Local History Library, MISC. File 725.13 BATT Fig. 19 Works taking place to convert the council chamber into the ‘main house’, a black box space, c. 1981 Source: Battersea Arts Centre archive Fig. 20 Newly-installed raked seating in the main house, c. 1981 Source: Battersea Arts Centre archive Fig. 21 Plan for Levitt Bernstein Central Studio, c.1996 Source: Battersea Arts Centre archive Fig. 22 Sketch of the plans for increased circulation and ‘shockingly unexpected garden’ th Source: Tom Morris, drawn during an interview with the author, 4 June 2009 Fig.23 Sketch showing the proposed height of the central studio in comparison to the original building th Source: Tom Morris, drawn during an interview with the author, 4 June 2009

Fig. 24 Sketch by Bethan Davies of Levitt Bernstein Architects, showing the Central Studio and glassroofed foyer area th Source: Given to the author by Axel Burrough, 8 June 2009 Fig.25 Elevation of central studio showing proposed seating layout, Theatre Projects, c.1996 Source: Battersea Arts Centre archive

Fig. 26 Plan showing the courtyard converted into a glass-roofed café area, Levitt Bernstein Architects, c.1996 Source: Battersea Arts Centre archive Fig. 27 Sketch of the scratch ladder of development showing progression from ‘scratch night’, to ‘scratch performance / £3.50 tickets’ to ‘showcase / £8.00 tickets’ to ‘3 week *run+ / £10 tickets’. The sketch also shows how the scratch nights were programmed into each season across the year. th Source: Tom Morris, drawn during an interview with the author, 4 June 2009 Fig. 28 Octoberfest season brochure, front cover and inside front cover, 2005 Source: Batterea Arts Centre archive Fig. 29 Octoberfest season brochure, parties page, 2005


Source: Batterea Arts Centre archive Fig. 30 The House of Usher, The Masque of the Red Death, BAC, September 2007 Source: Stephen Dobbie / Punchdrunk archive Fig. 31 The Palais Royale dressing room, The Masque of the Red Death, BAC, September 2007 Source: Stephen Dobbie / Punchdrunk archive

Fig. 32 Punchdrunk performer as Madeline Usher, The Masque of the Red Death, BAC, September 2007 Source: Stephen Dobbie / Punchdrunk archive Fig. 33 Punchdrunk performer, The Masque of the Red Death, BAC, September 2007 Source: Stephen Dobbie / Punchdrunk archive Fig. 34 Finale in the Grand Hall, The Masque of the Red Death, BAC, September 2007 Source: Stephen Dobbie / Punchdrunk archive Fig. 35 Punchdrunk performer as Roderick Usher, The Masque of the Red Death, BAC, September 2007 Source: Stephen Dobbie / Punchdrunk archive Fig. 36 Set Design for the ground floor front of the building, The Masque of the Red Death, BAC, September 2007 Source: Stephen Dobbie / Punchdrunk archive Fig. 37 The Grand Hall as Prince Prospero’s palace, The Masque of the Red Death, BAC, September 2007 Source: Stephen Dobbie / Punchdrunk archive Fig. 38 The fireplace room with Pluto the cat, The Masque of the Red Death, BAC, September 2007 Source: Stephen Dobbie / Punchdrunk archive Fig. 39 New structure for scratch development Source: David Jubb / Battersea Arts Centre Fig. 40 Punchdrunk performer in The Black Cat, The Masque of the Red Death, BAC, September 2007 Source: Stephen Dobbie / Punchdrunk archive Fig. 41 The attic stairs painted for The Masque of the Red Death, BAC, September 2007 Source: Stephen Dobbie / Punchdrunk archive Fig. 42 New producing office under construction in old social services kitchen, summer 2007 Source: Haworth Tompkins Architects Fig. 43 Set design for ‘the music room’, showing hidden doorway leading into the artistic director’s office, The Masque of the Red Death, BAC, September 2007


Source: Stephen Dobbie / Punchdrunk archive Fig. 44 Front entrance of Teatro Oficina, Sao Paulo, November 2008 Source: Allegra Galvin Fig. 45 Side view of Teatro Oficina, Sao Paulo, November 2008 Source: Allegra Galvin Fig. 46 Sao Paulo Museum of Modern Art (MASP), designed by Lina Bo Bardi, 1957-1968 rd Source: Bo Bardi, Lina, Lina Bo Bardi, Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi, Sao Paulo 2008 (3 Ed.), p.111 Fig. 47 SESC Pompéia, Sao Paulo, designed by Lina Bo Bardi, 1977 Source: Allegra Galvin Fig. 48 In the Jungle of the Cities, design by Lina Bo Bardi, direction by Ze Celso, Teatro Oficina, 1969 rd Source: Bo Bardi, Lina, Lina Bo Bardi, Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi, Sao Paulo 2008 (3 Ed.), p.187 Fig. 49 Sketch proposal for the interior of Teatro Oficina by Lina Bo Bardi, showing the marking ‘Walkway, not advised by the architect’ circled in red. rd Source: Bo Bardi, Lina, Lina Bo Bardi, Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi, Sao Paulo 2008 (3 Ed.), p. 259 Fig. 50 Teatro Oficina on tour, a reconstruction of the scaffolding theatre Source: http://teatroficina.uol.com.br Fig. 51 Teatro Oficina on tour, a reconstruction of the scaffolding theatre being inspected by Ze Celso Source: http://teatroficina.uol.com.br Fig. 52 The ‘terreiro’ or yard outside the auditorium at SESC Pompéia, 2008 Source: Allegra Galvin Fig. 53 The main promenade in Teatro Oficina 4 during the inaugural production of Hamlet, 1993 Source: http://teatroficina.uol.com.br Fig. 54 Auditorium of SESC Pompéia, Sao Paulo, designed by Lina Bo Bardi, 1977 Source: Allegra Galvin Fig. 55 Scaffolding structure of Teatro Oficina, photo taken from dressing rooms, 2008 Source: Allegra Galvin Fig. 56 The floor to ceiling window of Teatro Oficina, 2008 Source: Allegra Galvin Fig. 57 Performance at Teatro Oficina Source: http://teatroficina.uol.com.br


Fig. 58 Performance at Teatro Oficina Source: http://teatroficina.uol.com.br Fig. 59 Walls of the foyer gallery with the frieze painted for The Masque of the Red Death, BAC, 2008 Source: Battersea Arts Centre archive Fig. 60 Wall of the fireplace room after The Masque of the Red Death closed with pictures from the show still in place, BAC, 2008 Source: Battersea Arts Centre archive

Note: All plans of Battersea Arts Centre from 1899 – 1925 were found in a canvas folder in Battersea Local History Library. These are not stored with the plans from 1954 – 1970.


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