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Sam Wannamaker Playhouse: Shakespeare moves indoors

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Sam Wannmaker Theatre

Named after the Globe Theatre’s visionary founder, The Sam Wannamaker Playhouse will be a new space expected to bring in new audiences and new plays reinforcing the Globe’s mission to educate and entertain.

The theatre will seat 350 guests and promises to create an atmosphere as lively and social as the Globe, but with a much greater intimacy and intensity.

Since the Globe was constructed, the space has been used for storage and rehearsals but following on from numerous donations – £6.5 million raised against a £7.5 million target – work was able to start on creating this new theatre space.

The venue is intended to be the most complete recreation yet of an indoor Jacobean theatre.

Sam Wannmaker Theatre

Marcus Coles, the theatre’s fundraising ambassador, said:

“Entering this timber hand-crafted candle-lit intimate space will be like tripping into the 1600s.”

Dominic Dromgoole, the Globe’s artistic director, said the project was “a leap into the unknown” and that the Sam Wannamaker Playhouse would allow the Globe “to continue its experimental vision of going back to the future”.

Dromgoole went onto add that the performances would be “largely, if not entirely, candle-lit”.

Oliver Heywood, the theatre’s senior architect, revealed that one of the key challenges had been “getting the London Fire Brigade to agree to the use of up to 100 candles in a dark wooden theatre.”

On this issue Dromgoole added:

“We’ve got a good safety record because we were granted the right to build the first thatched roof in London since the Great Fire of London, so they’ve made a special exception for us before.”

The main contractors on the build are Virtus and speaking about the progress on theatre so far, Construction Director, Ed Falvey said:

“Work started on the theatre last November, it’s an overall 44 week programme. Currently we’re working on the foyer, we’ve spent the last eight weeks demolishing and stripping out this area and presently we’re putting the structure back together, with plastering starting very shortly.

Sam Wannmaker Theatre

“Work on the Globe’s foyer was needed as it was seen as something not fit for purpose anymore, it was too enclosed and it didn’t really flatter the theatre enough. We’re trying to open up the space and modernize it- through using more glass and open areas we are making it more airy and better lit.

“The idea is to get the foyer finished and ready before the season starts again and following on from the handover.

Sam Wannmaker Theatre

“The theatre however is obviously the main focus, and once work is completed on the foyer we will work on this during the season until September. The Globe is obviously a huge attraction for tourists, so we are working with the theatre to ensure as little disturbance as possible is caused.”

Speaking about some of the materials being used, Ed added:

“We will be using a green oak frame, which is very unusual and very unique in construction. The frame is being constructed by the same contractors who created the original globe some 20 years ago – the use of these materials on the Sam Wannamaker Playhouse gives a good sense of continuity.”

When asked how important this project is to Virtus, Ed went onto say:

“It’s a tremendously important project for us; it is a fantastic achievement for a company of our size to have won this contact- we’re absolutely delighted to be involved with a project of such historical significance.”

Sam Wannmaker Theatre

AMD Environmental

A specialist mechanical and electrical contractor, AMD Environmental works across a range of sectors offering clients a comprehensive range of MEP services focusing on banking retail, critical resilience, data centres, commercial fit out, food retail and high end residential.

Most recently AMD have been carrying out works on the new prestigious ‘Sam Wanamaker Theatre’, which is part of the iconic ‘Globe Theatre’.

Speaking about the works carried out so far, Operations Director James Gray said:

“We are really excited to be the chosen M&E contractor responsible for the installation of the mechanical and electrical services at the Sam Wanamaker Theatre. This is complex, fast track project which is on programme and will bring great esteem to all those involved upon its successful completion.

“To win the contract for the theatre was great for the company portfolio- we are really proud to be involved with this prestigious project.”

When asked what the company prides itself on, James added:

“AMD prides itself in providing a complete MEP ‘Cradle to Grave’ or ‘One stop Shop’ offering, bespoke solutions to every client’s requirement! The business provides a complete in house MEP ‘design and Build’ engineering capability, combined with an energy solutions and management offering of which all are supported via our Facilities Management and Maintenance arm delivering 24/7 aftercare service.

“The AMD model incorporates an ethos of innovation and sustainable solutions throughout our business with our core focus always on the Client! We pride ourselves in delivering proactive and efficient management ensuring maximum emphasis on delivery excellence, risk management, quality control, cost efficiency and environmentally friendly strategies, all of which are key objectives to customer satisfaction and the development of long term relationships.”

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