New theatre and studios to ‘transform’ performance learning at Goldsmiths

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A £2.9 million performance and teaching centre is being created at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Actors in the main auditorium of the renovated George Wood Theatre.

An artist's impression of the renovated George Wood Theatre, due to be completed in summer 2018

The renovation of the existing George Wood Theatre will provide the College with a contemporary theatre with seating for up to 200 people and two new studio spaces fit for 21st century creative practice.

The new provision is due to open in Summer 2018 following a 10-month project to completely overhaul the current theatre and create studio space housed in the Grade II-listed 19th Century former chapel on Goldsmiths’ New Cross campus.

Students and staff from across College will be able to use the revamped building with scholars from the Department of Theatre and Performance and Department of Music expected to be the main beneficiaries. The theatre and studios will also be available for public hire when not booked by the College.

Renovating the theatre and studios gives students at Goldsmiths the resources to devise and perform works in professional-standard spaces. In total there will be 350 square metres (3767 square foot) of renovated space.

The revamp includes installation of around £150,000 of specialist lighting and sound equipment and a further £150,000 on Audio Visual provision.

Seating will be provided by retractable seating bleachers, which will allow for a large flat floor area when retracted.

Extended they will provide 141 seats while there is capacity to increase seating to over 200 by using linked seating on the flat floor. Wheelchair spaces are accommodated within this seating allocation.

The studio on the ground floor will have a solid hard floor and will be lit by a suspended lighting grid strung from the ceiling.

The studio on the first floor will have a pitched roof space and resilient sprung floor for movement and dance activities.

The £2.9 million investment, which is being paid by the College from the capital budget, will also allow for the development of new courses and learning opportunities at the College.

Head of the Department of Theatre and Performance Osita Okagbue said: “The new George Wood Theatre and studios will transform the delivery of theatre practice in the Department of Theatre and Performance.

“Replacing the large and ageing repertory theatre with a new flexible and modern space that will allow the department to teach and deliver theatre practice consonant with current industry standards.”

Head of the Department of Music Ian Gardiner said: “We will now have access to tailor-made and adaptable spaces for rehearsals, presentations, workshops and performances.

“The possibility of combining live performance with high specification audio and visual projection will allow for students and staff to develop innovative and experimental work that crosses boundaries between media and creative disciplines.

The theatre is named after the College’s former registrar George Wood, who worked at Goldsmiths from 1958 to 1977.

The George Wood Theatre was built by architect John Shaw Junior in 1853 as a chapel for the Royal Naval School. Damaged during the Blitz in the Second World War, the building was altered in the 1960s and 1970s to accommodate the Theatre.

Goldsmiths’ Director of Estates Catriona Boulton said: “This project is breathing new life into a central part of our campus and gives our students additional space for creating and staging innovative work and performances.

“We also want attract members of the public into the very heart of Goldsmiths, as a space that is shared with our local community."