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ITEAC 2014 - The Future of Performance Spaces

International Theatre Engineering and Architecture Conference 2014 – The Future of Performance Spaces

ITEAC 2014 - The Future of Performance Spaces

It was with regret that the fourth instalment, ITEAC in 2014, opened not with salutations from Richard to the assembled delegates and speakers but with tributes to him, he sadly having passed away at the beginning of the year.
With London the setting once again, ITEAC 2014 was held at the University of London’s Senate House, on Sunday 8 June, Monday 9 June and Tuesday 10 June.
As in previous years, three strands of seminars ran throughout the programme but as an innovation, plenary sessions ran at the opening and conclusion of each day.
Furthermore, 2014 saw the establishment of an Editorial Board:
David Staples - (Chairman) | Mark Ager | Gerbrand Borgdorff |
Hazel Clover | David Edelstein | Tim Foster |
Steve Roberts | Robin Townley | Alex Wardle
Many of the world’s leading practitioners explored the theme ‘The Future of Performance Spaces: The People – The Places – The Technologies’, sharing solutions, experiences and expert opinion.
No great conference can happen without dedicated support from supporters willing to commit not only their financial backing but also their encouragement and resources.
Once more Stage Technologies headed the list as Platinum Sponsor, followed by:
Gold – Unusual Rigging, Ambassador Theatre Group & J&C Joel
Silver+ – Stage Electrics & ETC
Silver – Waagner Biro, SBS, Tait & Theatre Projects Consultants
Bronze – Serapid, Philips Entertainment, Multistage, Theatreplan, Triple E, White Light, Anne Minors Performance Consultants, Harlequin Floors, Charcoalblue, Centre Stage Engineering, Clay Paky, Auerbach Pollock Friedlander, Gala Systems, Global Design Solutions, Hawthorn, AECOM & RHWL Arts Team


Keynote: Tod Machover
Tod Machover, “America’s most wired composer” (Los Angeles Times), one of the brightest thinkers about performance today – opened ITEAC 2014, the worldwide forum for sharing of ideas and best practice.

A Provocation: Sir John Tusa
Sir John Tusa started life as a journalist before going on to head the BBC World Service and subsequently the Barbican, Europe's largest multi-arts centre. His paper was a provocation - why do artists often prefer found spaces? Do we need any more buildings by star architects? Yet another horseshoe, shoe box or courtyard theatre - what are the new forms of theatre relevant to the 21st Century?

Creating New Cultural Districts
The traditional cultural districts of London, Paris, and Broadway have evolved over centuries. Some new and emerging communities and societies are not prepared to wait. They want cultural districts in a five or ten-year period. This panel included speakers from the Middle East, and China talking about creating vibrant cultural districts.
Speakers included:
Jin Wang Wanda | Cultural Tourism Planning & Design Institute
Simon Fraser | Allies and Morrison
Ricky Sandhu | Foster + Partners
David Staples | Theatre Projects
Moderator: Peter Wilson | Peter Wilson Cultural Projects

Stage Changes in Modern Chinese Theatre
This session revealed the complex causes and influences that have affected the modern Chinese stage. These include the cultural impact of Western traditions, the decline of the Chinese traditional stage, theatre technology and arts imported from the West.
Mr. Lu Xiangdong | School of Architecture, Tsinghua University
Moderator: Mark Taylor | Mark Taylor Asia Ltd

Projection & Imaging within Performance
The advances in both projection and LED video screens means the dream of creating scenery through projection is at last being realised, often in surprising and innovative ways. The session looked at the latest ideas and advances in this rapidly expanding area.
Speakers included:
William Dudley | Designer
Dan Shipton | Creative Director
Frieder Weiss | Software Developer
Moderator: Bryan Raven | White Light

King Kong the Musical – one project among many
A case study by our Platinum Sponsor

The Concert Hall of the Future
For more than a century, science has been used to help create the perfect concert hall. Sometimes it has succeeded admirably while on other occasions, significant sums of money have been seemingly wasted on a poor acoustic shunned by leading musicians. How will new techniques and technologies be utilised to ensure great halls are made every time?
Speakers included:
Nestor Bottino Holzman | Moss Bottino Architecture
George Ellerington | Arup
Jim Hultquist | Schuler Shook
Greg Miller | Threshold Acoustics
Moderator: Benton Delinger | Theatre Projects

Touring Technologies
As the costs of large-scale touring continue to rise, the need to reduce set-up and break-down times is vital. However, producers have to keep pace with their audiences' appetite for spectacle. How can new technologies meet this challenge?
Speakers included:
Jeff Burke | ES Global Solutions
Adam Davis | TAIT
Chris Vaughan | Production Manager
Moderator: David Edelstein | Triple E

Evolving Standards for Stage Engineering
The need for common standards in stage engineering has long been the goal for many engineers and manufacturers. However as different standards are being formulated in the US and Europe, is this goal now out of reach?
Speakers included:
Alistair Bell | Stage Technologies
Ron Bell, OBE | Engineering Safety Consultants Ltd
Bill Sapsis | Sapsis Rigging
Jens Schröder | Theatertechnische Systeme
Moderator: Dave Ludlam | Theatreplan

Learning from Natural Disasters
In Japan, the 2011 Tsunami caused great devastation across the country. Many theatres were damaged. The rebuilding programme has given architects and engineers an opportunity to reassess what will best suit contemporary audiences. New regulations for auditorium ceilings are being introduced this April. In New Zealand not only has a conversion of a wharf shed into a multi-purpose space had to incorporate seismic strengthening, the construction also had to cope with two earthquakes.
Speakers included:
Professor Shozo Motosugi | Nihon University
Phil Conroy | Shand Shelton
Moderator: Fiona Blackett | J&C Joel

Creative Financing
How do we persuade other people to pay for new theatres to be built? We discuss examples where developers have been obliged to provide a new theatre as part of an overall building project. What are the pitfalls with this? How can we avoid these? What other cunning financial models are out there?
Speakers included:
Judith Strong | Arts & Architecture Consultant
Steve Friedlander | Auerbach Pollock Friedlander
Jennifer Mitchell | Kings Place Foundation
Moderator: Mhora Samuel | The Theatres Trust

Engineering the Large Spectacular - The London Olympics
The opening and closing ceremonies of London 2012 received much popular and critical acclaim. Behind the spectacle was a considerable amount of innovative engineering and technology, particularly in the suspension of artists and scenic elements above the arena.
Speakers included:
Aran Chadwick | Atelier One
Rasti Bartek | Buro Happold
Steve Porter | Unusual Rigging
Jim Tinsley | Stage One
Moderator: Piers Shepperd | Wonder Works Limited


Keynote: Kjetil Trædal Thorsen
Founding Partner of renowned Oslo and New York architectural practice Snøhetta, Thorsen has led several award-winning design competitions for public buildings around the world. These included the museum built for the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina library and the new Oslo Opera House.
Moderator: Mark Stroomer Theatre Projects

Sir Howard Panter
Sir Howard Panter has over 40 years’ experience in the Arts and Entertainment industry gained in organisations such as The Royal Court Theatre, The Royal Shakespeare Company and Michael Codron Ltd. He was co-founder and and the Joint CEO and Creative Director of the Ambassador Theatre Group Ltd (ATG), which has grown to be the world’s number one live-theatre group with a total of 40 venues in Britain and on Broadway.
Interviewed by Petrus Bertschinger

Conservation & Restoration
To what extent should a project conserve a historic theatre, and to what extent should the building be changed to support the organisation's current activities? Differing approaches to this were presented, referencing listed buildings from 1700s and the 1960s.
Paddy Dillon | Howarth Tompkins
Jim Niesel | Arup
Dr David Wilmore | Theatresearch
Moderator: Tim Foster | Foster Wilson Architects

Theatres for Education
What makes a good theatre for education? Should we approach the design as if it were any other theatre? How do we deal with the different demands of use, which are often needed - a room for the school play, the school orchestra, examinations? How do we stop the school theatre being a "sofa-bed": a bad sofa and a bad bed? What is an appropriate level of technology?
Bryan Avery on the RADA and Repton Theatres
Jason Flanagan on the RWCMD
John Riddell on the Milton Court, London
Tan Suan Wee on the School of Arts Singapore
Moderator: Steve Bree | The King's School

Broadcasting and Wallcasting
No longer is watching a live performance in a theatre or concert hall limited to those in the room, there is an ever-increasing range of ways to take the live performances to the audience. We discuss these new methods of taking the performances to the audiences with a number of people capturing and broadcasting these performances.
Speakers included:
Alice Frain | Picturehouse Cinemas
Lyn Goleby | Picturehouse Cinemas
Howard Herring | President & CEO New World Symphony
Emma Keith | National Theatre Live
Moderator: Rob Gethen Smith | Southbank Centre

The use of LED sources for installed and stage lighting is continuing to grow and the prospect of a ban on tungsten sources is looming in many countries. We asked LED manufacturers and lighting designers to review where the industry is going: what do LEDs do well and what are they incapable of doing, now or perhaps ever? Do the green credentials really stack up? Are LEDs really as low power as we are led to believe? Is the quality of light good enough?
Mike Atkinson | Theatreplan
Jim Morse | James Morse Lighting Design
Johanna Town | Lighting Designer
Moderator: Matthew Lloyd | GDS

Dara Ó Briain - A Performer's View
Dara is a comedian and television presenter, noted for hosting television shows such as Mock the Week, Dara Ó Briain: School of Hard Sums and The Apprentice: You're Fired! Dara began his career by performing in comedy clubs in Ireland; he now tours both nationally and internationally. When not on tour, he works regularly as an after-dinner Speaker and awards host, having presented the Bafta Telly awards, the Bafta Video Game awards and the Empire Movie awards, amongst many others. Dara has also written a book; Tickling the English published in 2009 and has now written for most of the national papers in the UK and Ireland, including a year as sports columnist for the Guardian. Dara Ó Briain became a Trustee of The Theatres Trust on 1 April 2014.

Place Making
Creating places for live performance can be one of the most demanding yet stimulating commissions for architects. There are usually three distinct constituencies to satisfy: funders, producers and the audience. And where do the needs of performers fit? Two major architects presented their approach to place making.
Steve Tompkins | Haworth Tompkins - UK
Moderator: Simon Harper | Harper Tackley Consultants

Google Glass and Beyond Surtitles
Since the bleeping digital watch, personal information technology devices have encroached into the soundscape of theatre and concert hall. How will venues cope with an explosion of devices and more intriguingly how can personal IT be harnessed to enhance the performance?
Speakers included:
Stefano De Lissandri | Radio Marconi SrL, Marconi Technologies SA
Jason Osterman | Theatre Projects
Thomas Rhodes | Fort Worth Opera
Moderator: Jennifer Mitchell | Kings Place Music Foundation

Building Management & Operating Systems
How is advancement in technology influencing how arts buildings are operated? What is future need and at what point in the planning and design process should consideration be made and by whom?
Speakers included:
Rob Macpherson | Birmingham Hippodrome
Timothy Nathan | Artifax Software
Roger Tomlinson | The Ticketing Institute
John Young | ATG
Moderator: Hazel Clover | Clover Theatre Management

Rod Ham Revisited
Rod Ham's 1972 book on Theatre Planning became an initial reference for designing everything from lighting bridges to dressing room make-up stations. The book was revised in time for ITEAC 2010. What should we revise next time? How do we make suitable provision for rigging moving lights on FOH bridges and iPad chargers in dressing rooms?
Craig Gamble | Marshall Day
Rob Halliday | Lighting Designer and writer
Moderator: Alex Wardle | Charcoalblue

When the Show is the Theatre
The design of some large-scale shows is such that they become the fabric of the theatre. What are the implications of undertaking these large engineering projects where the demands of the building plan are dictated by the show’s artistic team.
Donald MacLean | Universal Studios
Jean Marcouiller | Franco Dragone Entertainment Group
Jin Wang | Wanda
Ray Winkler | Stufish
Mark Ager | Stage Technologies
Moderator: Len Auerbach | Auerbach Pollock Friedlander

Reuse of Existing Buildings
What do you do with an interesting empty building? Allow use for site-specific work, or convert it into a theatre? What makes a site-specific performance interesting to an audience? Why bother with the hassle of making an existing building meet modern building codes?
Speakers included:
Abanti Chakraborty | Artistic Director, Aarshi Theater Group
Marcus Davey | Chief Executive & Artistic Director, Roundhouse
David Jubb | Battersea Arts Centre
Moderator: Lucy Osborne | Set and Costume Designer

Maintenance & Renewal
An increasing number of theatres are being equipped with advanced engineering systems. Unlike the simple counterweight systems that have gone before, these systems require increased maintenance, and ongoing service/replacement. What should be considered when implementing and running these systems?
Speakers included:
Jeroen De Leeuw | Rotterdam Municipal Theatre
Ron Maas | Theateradvies
Klaus Peter Roth | Waagner-Biro
Paul Shumack | Sydney Opera House
Moderator: Gerbrand Borgdorff | Theateradvies

Big Data
Google, Amazon and Facebook were "born digital" and have been using big data for years to make predictions about you. The performing arts are beginning to look beyond demographics and box office data. How can the design and construction industry also benefit from big data.
Speakers included:
James Doeser
Rob Grieg
Moderator: David Staples

Accessibility - Inclusion should not be a performance
How do we define accessibility? How can we make performances accessible to a wider audience through new technologies? Performance spaces are workplaces too. How can we ensure disabled technicians are able to have a full and active role?
Speakers included:
Gavin Green | Charcoalblue
Steven Kemland | Sound Engineer
Kevin Walsh | Graeae Theatre Company
Moderator: Helen Allen | David Bonnett Associates

Temporary Theatres
Theatres used to be built on a temporary basis in princes' ballrooms: now they are seen as something new and funky. What makes a good one? How temporary should it be? How do we avoid installing an overload of M&E services, only to be ripped out a few months later? Why does it need to be anything more than a big tent?
Speakers included:
James Binning | Assemble
Alice Edgerley | Assemble
Jacques Plante | Canada
Mark Priestly | Unusual Rigging
Moderator: Andy Hayles | Charcoalblue

Under stage systems - out of sight, and out of use?
Complex lift systems have been installed in many Opera houses and other theatres. Are they worth the money spent? How best can we engineer stage systems to facilitate and inspire the new generation of theatre designers. How can we provide configurable stage systems?
Speakers included:
Robert Heimback | Gala Systems
Philipp Olbeter | Landestheate
Alan Bartlett | RSC
Moderator: Ken Golding | Delstar Engineering

Un-cued Blackouts? How Modern Equipment Threatens Tonight's Performance
Almost all electrical equipment in theatres, factories, offices and homes causes pollution on the incoming electrical mains supply. This works its way back into the electricity network causing power outages that can stop and has stopped performances both locally and city wide. Industry expert James Eade and others discussed what causes the power quality to be poor and what can be done about it.
Speakers included:
Adam Bennette | ETC
James Eade | Chartered Engineer
Moderator: Mark White | ETC


Keynote: Adam Davis
Adam Davis has cemented his success within the live entertainment industry by developing some of the field’s most revolutionary technologies and design concepts. As president and partner of the TAIT group, Davis manages a team of over 600 skilled specialists across the fields of staging, scenic design, LED integration, show control and automated rigging.
Moderator: Robin Townley

Synergies & Conflicts in Theatre Design
The triangular balance between acoustics, architecture and theatricality could be described as the formula for the perfect performance space. This session explored historical examples and then considered recent and current projects. The impact of technical systems including lighting positions, mechanical noise and sound enhancement systems was also discussed.
Speakers included:
Joshua Dachs | Fisher Dachs Associates
Rob Harris | Arup

Flexible Theatres
Crazy demands are made for flexibility in theatres. Does it ever really work well, or is it always a compromise? Speakers from noted flexible theatres which have been running for a few decades discussed what formats are actually used? What works well? What are the maintenance nightmares?
Speakers included:
Todd Hensley | Schuler Shook
Radisav Maric | Svetlost Teatar
Joel Staley | University of Bath
Moderator: Millie Dixon | Theatre Projects

New Directions in Stage Automation
Control systems used only to be able to execute point to point moves but now offer a host of features undreamt of a few years ago. This session provided a review of the current capabilities and what we can expect in the future.
Rasmus Bleekemolen | Waagner Biro
Ingo Kleinert | SBS
Jimmy Love | TAIT
Modeator: Dave Ludlam | Theatreplan

Small-scale, Low-budget Start-ups
Many building- based companies have started as small organisations and become established, respected venues. Focussing on the organisation, how have they achieved this? What partnerships were important along the way. What would they have done differently.? What (other than money) could have helped the process?
Mehmet Ergen
Scott Georgeson

Acoustic Enhancement
Acoustic enhancement systems for some time have been a most useful way to repair the poor acoustics of some auditoria and to create variable acoustics in other places. Many owners however were not proud to have these systems installed. Acoustic enhancement was and often still is seen as second best to real natural acoustics. But times change and systems develop. Now acoustic enhancement systems are seen more and more as good and affordable solutions to a problem that can otherwise only be solved at a much higher cost. In this session architects, acoustic consultants and musicians shared their experiences and investigated the possibilities.
Speakers included:
Patrick Arends
Rob Dekkers | LBP|SIGHT
Paul Gilleron | Gilleron Scott Acoustic Design
Malcolm Morton | The Hague Philharmonic Orchestra
Moderator: Gerbrand Borgdorff | Theateradvies

Motors or Muscles? The Flying Question
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best flying system for your venue, it is not as simple as powered flying is newer therefore it is best. The impact of the production requirements, programme, budget, local legislation all need to be considered. This session heard a number of different points of view with the intent to finish with a list of points to be considered when selecting your flying system.
Speakers included:
Geert Torfs
John Young | Ambassador Theatre Group

Challenges in Stage Engineering
An exploration of some of the current challenges in engineering that effect stage engineering design. A session for specifiers and engineers working in the industry to get up to speed with the latest developments.
Speakers included:
Neil Darracott | Delstar Engineering
Fred Maeder | Waagner-Biro
Moderator: Iain Forbester | Serapid

The Opera House of the Future
The first public opera house was Teatro San Cassiano, which opened in 1637 in Venice. The recent new opera houses with their orchestra pits, proscenium arch stages and horseshoe auditoriums are direct descendants of that theatre. Not much has changed on over 370 years. What is the ideal opera house for the 21st Century and what technology does it need?
Speakers included:
Michael Haefliger | Salle Modulable, Lucerne
Nicholas Payne | Opera Europa
Ric Green | Opera North

Arts Buildings in Urban Renewal
Arts buildings can play a major role in urban renewal and development. What role have they played in bringing businesses and communities to the area? To what extent has urban renewal influenced arts building design and encouraged arts development?
Speakers included:
Julia Fawcett | The Lowry
Louis Janssen | Theateradvies
Anthony Sargent | Sage Gateshead
Iain Tuckett | Coin Street Community Builders
Moderator: Hazel Clover | Clover Theatre Management

Modern productions are ever more complex, whilst stage time is becoming increasingly expensive. How can new pre-visualisation technologies allow production teams to predict, plan and plot before the build and reduce time on stage?
Speakers included:
Mike Kovacic | Stage Technologies
James Simpson | Royal Opera House
Modertor: Durham Marenghi | Lighting Designer

Twenty Ideas for the Future
A concluding session. During the conference, many ideas were expressed about the Future of Performance Spaces - The People - The Places and The Technologies. Four experts in their own fields assessed key points made during the conference and fed back their pointers to the future.
Speakers included:
Abanti Chakraborty | Aarshi Theater Group
Anne Minors | Anne Minors Performance Consultants
Lucy Osborne | Set and Costume Designer
Lu Xiangdong | School of Architecture - Tsinghua University
Moderator: Karin Winkelsesser | Buehnentechnische Rundschau

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