Glasgow’s Citizens theatre has announced the first step in a £10 million redevelopment to its public and backstage areas.
Architectural practice Bennetts Associates, which worked on Stratford-Upon-Avon’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre, is to create the plans for a feasibility study for the project, which is anticipated to start in 2016.
Citizens artistic director Dominic Hill told The Stage: “I knew when I got the job that the theatre needed refurbishment. Over the last year I have been very much aware of that need in action and understanding how the building doesn’t work.”
The planned work to the Glasgow City Council-owned building is comprehensive. The dressing rooms and facilities for actors will be improved. The foyer will be refurbished to make it more functional, with the possibility for catering. The wing containing staff accommodation, which is leaking, will be rebuilt with added facilities and areas to support the theatre’s community learning projects.
Hill added: “As the regeneration of the Gorbals [area of Glasgow] goes on, we can become a resource and a focus point for the whole of the area. I believe that we should be more than somewhere to put on a show. We want to develop talent, develop artists and our own resident companies.
“The work the Citizens’ learning department does is highly regarded and extensive. This will give us facilities to develop that and give the community education department a dedicated space, which is all part of that sense of us being a cultural centre and focus point for artists and audiences and members of the community.”
The one piece of work planned for the auditorium is to reduce the rake on the stage, which Hill says is notorious: “I think it is the steepest rake on a stage in the country. If you are co-producing it means you have to rebuild the furniture and the scenery. If you put anything on stage that is on wheels it rolls down.
“Aesthetically, it is all very nice in terms of the audience’s relationship with the stage, but practically, it can be a bit of a nightmare.”
Initial design of the project will be carried out over the next few months, with an application to Creative Scotland for further development. Construction costs are expected to be in the order of £6.5 million, with the total cost rising to the region of £10 million.
Describing the new work as an opportunity, Hill added: “We have no choice. We are not doing this because we quite fancy having new facilities. We are doing it because the theatre is old and it is suffering. If we don’t do something about it, we won’t be able to continue to do the work that we do.”