Friday, September 14, 2007

Crossing Continents- or How to hide a theatre

Large theatres are monumental buildings, particularly if they have full scenery flying facilities. Embedded in a city block their massive bulk often goes unnoticed but when the stage house is exposed they can be a bit of an eyesore. So, if you are going to stick one in a theme park, how do you avoid drawing attention to it?

Well, the PortAventura approach is ingenious. It is buried underground so that the height is much diminished. You enter to the rear at ground level on what is the back row of a steep seating block. The theatre is actually in two lands and passed off as two different theatres.

In China, it is the Gran Theatre Imperial and there is a large Pagoda fronting (or rather siding) it. In this shot, the stage house can be seen to the right.

In Mexico, you enter via a rather creepy Mayan Pyramid complete with rich internal decoration and the inevitable robbed grave in a deep pit.

To disguise the stage house in this area, the rectangular shape is broken up by greenery and a toilet block in the foreground as well as the Pyramid structure which draws the eye.

Inside, the theatre is far too big to be intimate and the decoration is minimal as it has a bit of a split personality as far as the exteriors are concerned. It is also probably the only theatre in the world where you can exit onto different continents!

You are aided in this decision by projected lettering on the side walls at the end of the performance. The first time we saw this we didn't realise the schism and were surprised to find ourselves in familiar surroundings for our second visit there to see a different show in a different land.


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

How ingenious!

Shades said...

One show has a very elaborate set- the other just uses drapes. They need a big stage with full flying to be able to change easily between them as they do both shows several times a day in Summer.

Sometimes a theatre is totally concealed. The Shell Centre in London has a moderately sized theatre & a swimming pool entirely in the basement- search for "Lensbury Theatre" to find some pictures of it.