by Jez Bond

“Hi. My name’s Jez and I’m a maniac” began my speech to the Pleasance auditorium filled with the illuminati of the theatre design world. I had stood up to the lectern following Dave’s initial presentation, which ended with our rendition of Mr Henslowe and Fennyman’s dialogue on theatre from Shakespeare In Love:

- Mr Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.

- So what do we do?

- Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.

- How?

- I don’t know. It’s a mystery.

The title for this year’s conference was ‘Converting Spaces’ and Dave and I were talking in a session on ‘Who is the architect of the found space’ along with the BAC and the Arcola, each with their respective architects/engineers. The Shakespeare In Love quote is one that each member of the Park Theatre design team gets referred to before they come on board – and Dave had chosen to share this to the room as a demonstration of how passion and optimism must lead the way. It’s a philosophy that everyone involved in our project must embrace.

Following my maniac comment – which was actually me picking up on a reference made earlier in the day (and later repeated) that essentially a creative visionary aka ‘maniac’ should lead the project, my speech predominantly focussed on my close relationship with Dave, my architect. I made what some observations about how closely we worked.

I had done some calculations in preparation for the talk and it turned out that Dave and I had spent an estimated 400 hours communicating with each other. This is explicitly time spent together and doesn’t allow for any time that Dave – or any of his colleagues – have spent without me present, actually drawing up the plans, preparing detailed preplanning and planning documents, building the computer model and the CGIs, dealing with the design team to coordinate structure, M&E, acoustics, fire strategy etc… 400 hours of basically talking. That’s quite something given the main build has not eve started yet.

The conference ended with wine down in the courtyard of the Pleasance and we made some interesting connections with new faces as well as seeing some familiar. Tomorrow it’s the ABTT trade show and many of those same figures will reappear.

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