Like something from Pompeii' – Battersea Arts Centre's scorching resurrection

Like something from Pompeii' – Battersea Arts Centre's scorching resurrection

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At Battersea Arts Centre it can be hard to tell where the audience stops and the acting begins. The rambling Victorian town hall in south London, home to experimental theatre since the 1970s, has long revelled in blurring the boundaries of stage and seat, mingling performers with guests and presenting plays on landings, in the bar and even in its offices. BAC has finally completed a 12-year, £13.3m restoration project by celebrated theatre architects Haworth Tompkins – and it’s just as hard to tell where the original building ends and the new bits begin.

“We call it scratch architecture,” says architect Steve Tompkins, referring to the process of scratch theatre pioneered at BAC, where ideas are tested out live in the early stages of development, with audience feedback used to evolve the performance. “It’s not about a perfectly authored finished product, which is a difficult idea for architects to stomach,” he adds. “But we wondered if we could do a parallel process by insinuating ourselves into the productions. What would it mean for us to relinquish tyrannical control over the project?”

continue reading at the guardian.com








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