The company trialled a prototype of the venue – a 111-seat in-the-round space – at Sheffield Theatres and Shoreditch Town Hall in 2011 and 2012.
However, this donation will allow Paines Plough to create a more permanent version of the theatre – it is expected to last at least a decade – that can also be installed in non-theatre spaces such as village halls and sports centres. It is designed by Lucy Osborne.
Paines Plough joint artistic director James Grieve told The Stage: “The structure that sat in Shoreditch Town Hall last autumn and in Sheffield the autumn before that is a prototype that has the same look and feel as the final version, but isn’t portable. The key thing is to replicate that space, but it is being designed so that it can flat-pack into a single lorry, which is a huge engineering, logistical and architectural challenge.
“The idea is that the space will, in perpetuity, be able to flat-pack into a lorry, be driven to any venue, pop up and away we go. The really exciting thing for us is that we’re now moving towards the stage of the project that it was always really designed for, which is that it can tour to non-theatre spaces and opens up the possibility to us of touring to towns and villages and parts of the country that we’ve never been able to visit before.”
The new space will recycle many of the materials from the prototype. No final date has been confirmed for completion, but it is hoped it will be ready for 2014 when Paines Plough celebrates its 40th anniversary.
Grieve added that all the company’s work with the Roundabout auditorium would be funded through private donations and trusts and foundations, in addition to the work it is funded to produce as a national portfolio organisation with Arts Council England. The grant from the ALW Foundation will cover the cost of creating the auditorium.
He said that as well as improving the audience experience from that provided by the prototype, by means such as enhanced seating, the company is also hopeful it will be able to install a revolve in the final version.
Madeleine Lloyd Webber, trustee of the ALW Foundation, said of the award: “The foundation is very proud to be funding this completely innovative performing space for Paines Plough, which brings excellent theatrical productions to regions across the UK, often to places that have no access to traditional theatres, and we hope the new space will help enhance the work they already do.
“Providing opportunities for everyone to have the chance to experience theatrical events is a priority for the foundation, so we encourage others to give to similar arts projects that make an impact on communities across the UK.”