Home' Scoop Homes and Art : Insite 28 Autumn 2011 Contents 112 INSITE AUTUMN 2011
they are spectacular,” he said with a laugh
at the launch in late January.
Perth Theatre Company has moved from
its much-loved but antiquated Playhouse
on Pier Street to take up residency in the
Studio Underground. Artistic director
Melissa Cantwell is excited about the
venue’s impact on performa nce potential,
saying its flexibility provides scope for
experimentation in design and direction.
It can be configured for big shows or smaller,
intimate performances. “It’s fabulous, and
a great leap forward for the company.”
Melissa suggests that the process of
consultation in designing the theatre was
the key to the exceptional result. “Successive
state governments are to be congratulated
for consulting with all parties. The architects
sought advice from the theatre sector and
the resulting construction and fitout is
beyond expectation,” she says.
Perth Theatre Company’s production and
touring manager Hugo Lopez agrees, saying
there are so many options they’re “spoilt
for choice”. Hugo is particularly impressed
with the cable net rigging system above
the performance space, which provides a
virtual floor that allows for quick set-up and
changes to lighting design. “We can set our
lighting system within hours, not days. It’s
an extraordinary advancement. The whole
centre is like that. Everything has been
thought through and designed to perfection.
Choice and decision is now the hard part.
We can reconfigure the space in any number
of ways: seating plans can change; the depth
of performance space can be altered. It
doesn’t get any better than this.”
The Studio Underground is a ‘black
box’-type studio that connects to a rehearsal
room. Seating can be configured in many
It’s a modern building yet it exudes the warmth and
grandeur of a classical design. The brief called for
both philosophical vision and technical wizardry. Enter
Kerr y Hill, whose firm Kerry Hill Architects is based in
Singapore and Fremantle. The result is a venue with
a protective, yet calm, exterior. It’s an urban facade
of panelled concrete and black metal beams, with
soaring, reflective glass windows. By night, the interior
spaces, now visible from the street, glow with a golden
light. Patrons enter along a glowing glass floor below
a suspended canopy and hundreds of bronze-hued
cylinders suspended from the ceiling provide a magical
visual highlight as they climb the staircase to the main
Step into the modern warmth of the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia
theatre. Dark, robust materials, such as stone, concrete
and panelled wood, combine with towered ceilings and
vaulted glass walls to create a delicate use of light and
darkness throughout. The two theatres are atop each
other, but are acoustically isolated. This space-saving
design allows for generous public areas and a courtyard
that references Elizabethan theatres, making it a
multi-purpose venue perfect for festival productions.
The design is dramatic and surprising. Dr Ken Michael,
Governor of Western Australia, reserved his highest
praise for Kerr y Hill Architects: “This is a significant
landmark and a magnificent architectural achievement.”
No overstatement. Visit kerryhillarchitects.com.
ways, including theatre-in-the-round,
promenade and end stage. The three dressing
rooms have showers, toilets and small
but important touches, such as imported
incandescent makeup lighting. There are
rest rooms and a bar at gallery level.
After almost two decades of temporary
rental accommodation, the Perth Theatre
Company has finally found a home to match
its reputation for excellence and innovation.
The Heath Ledger Theatre, a traditional
proscenium design, is home to The Black
Swan State Theatre Company. With 170 circle
and 405 stall seats, it’s lined with Tasmanian
blackwood and is richly upholstered and
carpeted. A cavernous backstage area is
serviced with an extraordinary fly tower
that soars above the courtyard, connecting
58 lines and 16 hoists. Two bars complement
the theatre, and patrons can wander onto
balconies that overlook the city skyline.
Kim Ledger, father of the late, great Perth
actor Heath Ledger, believes his son would
have loved the place. “We are so proud to
have his name associated with the centre.
I was blown away when I walked into
the building. You know, Heath loved the
combination of polished concrete and wood.
It made me think of him as soon as I stepped
through the door. I said to the architect,
‘I think he [Heath] must have been sitting on
your shoulder when you designed this.’ It’s
a great thrill, and a terrific honour.” I
Black Swan State Theatre Company opened
the centre on March 4 with Boundary Street
in the Heath Ledger Theatre. Visit bsstc.com .au
for more information. The Perth Theatre
Company’s inaugural play The Ugly One,
starring former supermodel Gemma Ward,
opens on March 22 in the Studio Underground.
Visit perththeatre.com .au .
ABOVEGenerous public spaces make it easy for patrons to
mingle and relax. TOP The bronze-fringed staircase that leads
to the Heath Ledger Theatre. BELOW left The exterior of the
strikingly modern theatre centre.
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