Recyclable Theatre

Recyclable Theatre

Cardiff, United Kingdom | View Map
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Recyclable Theatre

World Stage Design as Association

Construction of Wales’ newest theatre venue has begun. A temporary, fully functioning recyclable theatre is being built for the World Stage Design 2013 festival, opening in Cardiff this September.


The Willow Theatre will be built in under three weeks in the courtyard of the Anthony Hopkins Centre (former stables to Cardiff Castle) at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (RWCMD) in Cardiff.

A team of international volunteers have travelled to Wales and are working alongside RWCMD engineering and technical staff as well as students to build the theatre, following plans by architect Tim Lai and theatre designer Brad Steinmetz, both of Columbus, Ohio, USA – the winners of an international design challenge that attracted more than 100 entries from 26 countries.

Speaking during week one of the build Ian Evans, WSD2013’s technical director and a senior lecturer at RWCMD, said:

“It’s a completely new experience for our students and volunteers – and a challenging one at that! There is no room for error with the build. We have a tight deadline before the first performance opens in The Willow theatre on September 5th, and the team are working relentlessly to create what will be a really great new arts venue for Cardiff this September. The building process is proving to be an impressive visual development on the site as well, as the contemporary structure of the Willow Theatre takes shape in this classic courtyard setting.”

You can follow the progress of the build via the live webcam in the courtyard of the Anthony Hopkins Centre. This live stream of images is updated every 2 seconds and gives a real time report of the build in progress.

Follow the webcam of the build here: The venue will be a central part of this major international arts festival, which is coming to the UK for the very first time in September. The festival showcases the newest and best in design work for live performances, including theatre, opera, dance and events.

The Willow theatre venue will open on September 5th at 18:30 with a production of ‘Who’s Afraid?’ By Rhodri Thomas in collaboration with Carolina Vasquez and Chris Young.

The Willow Theatre will then house a programme of events examining sustainability in creative practice, curated by Ian Garrett, the assistant professor of sustainable practice in the arts at York University, Canada. The programme is called People, Profit, Planet and will include events led by pioneering groups such as Julie's Bicycle, Arcola Theatre, Edinburgh Festivals and Creative Scotland, with tickets starting at just £6.

View the People, Profit, Planet programme here:

Tim Lai and Brad Steinmetz are calling their structure the Willow Theatre because its exterior features dangling fronds of fabric which shelter and sway like the branches of a weeping willow tree.

The building’s strength will come from hired and returnable industrial scaffolding while the decorative fronds and interior walls will be made from UK-produced horticultural fleece, a re-usable material which can also be recycled to make more of the same fabric.

Internal fittings, including the floor and wooden seating will also be re-usable, recyclable and/or re claimed and the roof will be retractable to take advantage of natural light and ventilation.

The drawings for the Willow Theatre will be on display in the space throughout WSD2013, alongside nine shortlisted entries.

World Stage Design 2013 also includes a free exhibition of set, costume, props, lighting and sound work by 100 performance designers; hands-on creativity events, over 40 performances including dance, physical theatre, puppetry, interactive performances and site specific works, and a wide range of master-classes, talks and workshops.

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