A Hackney theatre has unveiled plans for its Covid-secure return with an outdoor performance space.
Dalston’s Arcola Theatre’s Arcola Outside is scheduled to open in December.
The new open-plan amphitheatre includes an adaptable seating plan and bar, adhering to the 2-metre distancing rules. It is hoped that this space could trade in line with restrictions as they are announced.
Executive director of the Arcola, Dr Ben Todd, said: “Arcola was one of the first theatres to close in March, to avoid contributing to the spread of Covid-19. By going outside we are significantly reducing the risk of droplet transmission.”
“We are likely to be living with Covid-19 for some time, and it’s so important that we find new and safer ways of working. Arcola Outside will enable us to welcome audiences back, and to create new opportunities for freelance artists and workers. It will be a flexible, multi-purpose space, able to host live performances, screenings, installations and more.”
Benefitting from weather-protection measures, the space also has the regular airflow of outdoor conditions.
The structure, designed by internationally acclaimed stage designer Jon Bausor, will be near the theatre on Ashwin Street on a site previously occupied by the Arcola Tent between 2011 and 2014.
Bausor, an associate artist of the Royal Shakespeare company, previously designed the opening ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic Games and was a finalist for the Linbury Prize.
In keeping with the Arcola’s pledge to sustainability, Bausor plans to make use of sustainable recycled materials in building the new outdoor theatre, as well as decorating the space with live plants. The Arcola is set to debut the outside space with a collection of performances in December.
Arcola Outside is also set to be the home of a Hackney based festival of performance art: ‘Today I’m wiser’ in 2021.
The Arcola describes Today I’m Wiser as: “inspired by the present and fuelled by a collective desire for change. The festival will platform a wide range of artists and reunite them with the community after this historic time of upheaval, reviving public space and celebrating creativity.”
The Arcola is also fundraising online to raise money to restart and reschedule previously cancelled shows and to reopen the theatre safely with social distancing measures.