Next summer a very new and improved Playhouse will reopen! In addition to the new fixed seating (that was purchased but not yet installed at the time of the fire), here are the highlights:
Stage Floor – This will be rebuilt as a modern, semi-sprung floor more suitable for dance, movement, theatre school and community use
Artist space – The stage will now be accessible with a lift at stage left. The backstage area will be maximized for use and storage, and include an accessible washroom/change room. The Green Room above the stage will be thoughtfully equipped to serve artists well.
Theatre technical performance – From digital wiring throughout to placement of new sound and lighting, theatre systems will be customized to enhance the artist and audience experience. The Playhouse will be fully equipped for live streaming and hybrid presentations, a new standard for performance venues.
Film Presentation – The projector, sound and screen will be at a high commercial grade, meeting the criteria for live stream presentations and delivering an exceptional audience experience. This will be your favourite cinema!
Hosting Spaces – The ceiling height in the new main floor lobby bar area has been raised creating a more open environment. The former second floor bar is now a very functional, enclosed multi-purpose room for use as a patron lounge or a meeting space and includes a washroom.
Staff Work Environment – The new third floor area will be bright and well laid out to meet staff needs and provide flexibility. The Ondaatje Room and the Green Room will also be equipped to serve as workshop and meeting spaces.
Accessibility – The entry, lower and upper lobby and theatre will be fully accessible and serviced by an accessible washroom. The stage and backstage will also be accessible, including the washroom. Plans include a stair lift to the second floor Ondaatje Room. The Theatre will be serviced by a Hearing Loop system for use by the hearing impaired.
Air Quality – As with the restoration project, air circulation, heating and cooling have been prioritized. The difference is that system design and installation no longer involve maneuvering through a difficult existing structure.
Green Energy – All technical theatre lighting will be LED, and the insulation qualities of the rebuilt structure will add to energy efficiency.
Code Changes – The building will satisfy National Building Code requirements for fire safety at a place of assembly, protecting the building from external fire events and protecting adjacent neighbours from a fire event at the Playhouse. Previously, the Playhouse was grandfathered with respect to many code issues. The standard for fire protection in a public venue is a sprinkler system. This solution is not available to the Playhouse due to the lack of a public water supply in the Village of Chester. The approved alternative approach, incorporating specific construction materials, defined “zones” and extensive venting and alarm systems has added substantially to the costs of rebuilding.
We continue to move closer to our Grand Re-Opening and are excited to be able to share a look at the work in progress!
Keep checking back for more updates and photos as construction continues on your Chester Playhouse.