The Old Vic transformed: CQS Space

The transformation of the Old Vic into a theatre in the round…

“You’ve heard of theatre in the round? You’re looking at the man who invented theatre in the square: nobody had a good seat!” sings Max Bialystock in The Producers.

Forget theatre in the square; theatre in the round is notorious for inaudible lines and missed nuances. So why transform one of the most beautiful proscenium theatres in London into a round arena? Because when it is done well, the results are stunning.

The Old Vic is currently (albeit temporarily) a round venue, in the form of the CQS Space, delighting audiences with its intimate production of The Crucible, a year before Kevin Spacey hands over the Artistic Director role to Mathew Warchus.

The Old Vic

The Old Vic

The Old Vic first transformed itself into a round in 2008 for The Norman Conquests. In 2014, they have returned to the format for Other Desert Cities and The Crucible. The transformation in 2008 took 5 weeks. This time, they did it in a mere 19 days. Each saved day is crucial – representing a 0.3% improvement in asset sweat. An idle theatre is a loss-making theatre! See Showbusinessinsights view on entertainment venue asset sweat here.

Stalls seating bank

Stalls seating bank

The process is extremely complicated and involves

removing all the stalls seats

– raising the floor

– stripping the boxes

– repositioning the chandelier

– installing new lighting bridges

– installing new seating banks



The materials involved are also remarkable:

– 250 sheets of plywood

– 150 litres of grey paint

– 25,672 screws

– 5,000 bolts

– 2,700 metres of stick timber

– 17 tonnes of steel

– 1,666 LEDs

– 3,267 metres of cable

– 960 m2 of carpet

Plywood stage

Plywood stage


You can see a fascinating time lapse video of the transformation here.

The result

The result

The result is a stunning re-imagining of the Old Vic space and audiences have been highly enthusiastic. The audience is exceptionally close to the action and the resulting intimacy has contributed to the incredible reviews for The Crucible.

The Crucible

The Crucible

Showbusinessinsights looks forward to the CQS becoming a regular visiting feature to this Grande Dame of the London theatre scene.

Photo credits: The Old Vic and Showbusinessinsights

2 thoughts on “The Old Vic transformed: CQS Space

  1. Pingback: West End highlights of 2014 – Top 5 | showbusinessinsights

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