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A view of the gridiron looking up.
⇩ The gridiron and linesets at the Concert Hall.
The gridiron (or the grid), is the structure at the top of the flytower that supports the loft blocks used to fly the scenery. It's also close to the loading floor where stagehands load the arbours as counterweights to the scenery. This is different from a fixed lighting grid in a small black box theatre.
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Theatre seating with a green glow.
⇩ The Gas Station Theatre.
The Gas Station Theatre during the U of W's Henry V production. The Gas Station Theatre is converted from an old garage and has a fixed lighting grid with 1.5" Schedule 40 steel pipes on 5' centers.
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Kinky Boots pre-show at the Manitoba Centennial Concert Hall
⇩ Pre-show at the Manitoba Centennial Concert Hall.
The Concert Hall is one of my favourite theatres in Canada both as a place to work and as an audience member. The expansive stagehouse with ample wing space and a tall fly tower allow most contemporary touring shows to visit.
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view from the lighting booth showing the control board and monitors
⇩ View from the Lighting Booth
Lighting control in a theatre is typically done from the Front of House position in a booth separated from the audience. The last few years have seen significant advances in the use of digital technology with lighting control, dimmers, colour, and lamping. Shown is the Grosvenor School production of The Lion King jr.
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Staircases criss-crossing in a large theatre lobby.
⇩ Stairs at the Concert Hall.
The lobby is the typical playground for most architectural firms. It's the most public facing and the chance for audience members to mingle and talk about the show they are seeing. Intermission concession sales can be a significant source of income for theatres, so it's important to give those spaces some priority.
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The RWB Road crew on the steps of the Nutcracker set
⇩ The RWB Road crew on the steps of the Nutcracker set.
Working with the RWB Road crew was an incredible experience that exposed me to a variety of theatrical spaces and situations. It was hard work with long days - 7am to 1am in some cases, but it also provided me with some life-long friends and opportunities.

Theatre

All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players;


Designing a theatre is all about connecting an audience to a performance. The proscenium theatre is still the dominant form of presentation while other forms of immersive spaces (thrust, arena and flexible spaces) fall in and out of favour. JC ROBBINS ARCHITECTURE wants to be your trusted resource for your theatrical requirements.

I can still recall that moment sitting in Convo at the University of Winnipeg where I knew I wanted a career in theatre. I was filling in for a non-speaking role while the stagehands were prepping the lights and the magic of that space just kind of hit me. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to tour around the continent for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet setting up lighting in a wide range of spaces.

There are so many considerations when planning for a theatrical space. From renovations to completely new construction, it's incredibly important to engage in early planning. Construction & design decisions made along the way that make sense for a typical construction project will negatively affect your ability to get the space you need. Small compromises may save you money in the short term. A 55' high grid sounds high, but if you can't hang a 60' scenic drop you will miss out on a lot of touring opportunities.

Check out the presentation I gave to the RAIC Conference in 2015: Set Design for Sole Practitioners (46 MB). It provides some theatre types and history of set design for anyone wanting to expand their practice.
Here's the script outline.


Relevant Experience

IATSE Stagehand / Lighting & Set Designer
More than 10 years experience working in theatres across the continent with concurrent experience as a set & lighting designer. The experience of designing scenography combined with building and setting it up, has given me a perspective on theatre architecture that isn't available to everyone.

Chan Centre for the Performing Arts (Westsun Vancouver)
Design & develop shop drawings for the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, especially theatrical drapery, fixtures, and acoustics.

Capilano University Theatre (Westsun Vancouver)
Design & develop shop drawings for the Capilano University Theatre, especially theatrical rigging, lighting, drapery, fixtures, and acoustics.

Contact JC ROBBINS ARCHITECTURE office@jcrobbinsarchitecture.com, and we can figure out your requirements together.