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Andy's blog: On projects


The Royal Shakespeare Theatre auditorium (photo: Peter Cook).

As we head into our 5th ITEAC, a conference we’ve sponsored since we started in 2004, and as we quietly launch our new website this weekend I’m struck by how far we’ve come as a practice in such a relatively short time. But then again next February – we’re 15 years old!

Our adolescence is nearly over – we’ve grown from four to seventy, we’re now in four different time zones, we’ve got six studios, we’ve worked with over 100 brilliant organisations and I’ve grown a few more grey hairs (particularly on my chin!). And just in case 15 years old seems like a blink of an eye, none of us were using iPhones until 2007!

Personally, for me, one of the great joys in growing our practice has been watching our talented team flourish. Another has been working for some truly amazing clients and bringing their visions to life. Can there be anything better than watching artists make new work in a space that you have designed with them?

The reconfigurable auditorium at The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theater (photo: James Steinkamp Photography).

The Temporary Theatre at the National Theatre (commissioned by Nick Starr and with Haworth Tompkins) broke new ground in its speed (photo: Philip Vile)

When we started – we wanted to innovate. We wanted to try to constantly improve and not rest on laurels or tradition or perceived wisdom. We wanted to be as daring as the theatre creatives and music makers with whom we collaborate.

We wanted to take risks, to try new things, and deliver really cool, inspiring spaces. But we also wanted to learn. We’ve observed, listened and learned from our clients. We’ve taken the time to understand the risks they take, whether that’s on programming, backing new artists, or on new partnerships, creative and professional.

We’ve explored these risks in terms of space, performance and legacy. We’ve listened and explored the views of creatives, executives, managers, bursars, board members, artists, architects, builders and engineers to name but a few. It has taken years to learn from those perspectives – and we’re still learning! But I do think and hope that we’ve moved the theatrical debate on with the work we’ve contributed to since 2004.

“We wanted to take risks, to try new things, and deliver really cool, inspiring spaces. But we also wanted to learn.”

Andy Hayles, Managing Partner

The RSC Courtyard with Ian Ritchie Architects and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre with Bennetts were the first galleried 1,000-seat thrust spaces on the planet. The NT Shed (commissioned by Nick Starr and with Haworth Tompkins) broke new ground in its speed, low cost and rejuvenative power. And Toronto’s Luminato festival showed just how fast we can work within limited means to create something extraordinary.

I hope that the Perelman Centre for the Performing Arts with REX is going to take us all a step further….

The year ahead sees the opening of the new Kiln Theatre in Kilburn – Indhu Rubassingham’s new theatre built to serve her community; one of the most diverse in London. It’s been a labour of love for the whole team and Indhu’s bold leadership has been an amazing example to us all. I can’t wait for the first shows in September – which is suddenly only the other side of the summer holidays. It will have been worth the wait.

I’m so proud of where how far we’ve come and the spaces we’ve helped create. It’s been a privilege and a pleasure. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Andy Hayles, Managing Partner

Supporting the industry internationally since 2004

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John Owens is a Charcoalblue Partner responsible for our North American practice.

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