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Friends of Peterhouse Theatre

About the venue

The Friends of Peterhouse theatre was originally a University Museum of Classical Archaeology; situated at the rear of the college, it was fully refurbished in 2005 and is used for concerts, theatre, film showings, and conferences. It has a distinctive curved auditorium, with a raised stage (no proscenium arch), a gallery, and a small projection room/technical control room.

Rehearsals

Normally, the theatre is only available for rehearsals in the immediate run-up to a play being performed there; bookings should be made via the Heywood Society ([www.srcf.ucam.org/heywood]), Peterhouse's theatre society, who are resident there. Various conditions are imposed on its use by the College, and the Heywood Society have to ensure these are met. There is not normally a piano in the theatre: in the past, arrangements have been made for one to be moved inside temporarily, at cost.

Technical information

For pictures and up-to-date technical information, please visit the Peterhouse Conferences webpage at [www.peterhouse-conferences.co.uk/].

The auditorium seats 180; it is air-conditioned and there is an adjacent room which may be used for, e.g., food and drink during an interval. The stage is disproportionately wide (for its depth), and there is no permanent proscenium arch.
There are two stage entrances, both stage-left; one on the rear wall (to a large single dressing room with toilets and makeup mirrors) and one on the SL wall (to the public entrance corridor). For performances, the Heywood Society commonly errects a cyclorama (choice of 2, also provides get-around to SL wing), black tabs to provide wings on either side, and a boders for a proscenium arch/to hide rigging. Photos of these in use can be found on the Heywood Society website.
The College authorities insist on the wooden stage floor being protected for most theatrical productions. The Heywood Society possesses a black floor, various carpets, or rubber matting for this purpose, although other solutions are possible.
Further information regarding the space can be found by contacting the Heywood Society.

Lighting

The theatre is equipped with a new (2007) 12/24-channel Strand 200 series lighting control desk. In addition to A/B preset mode, the desk can store and recall up to 99 states, and also allows programming of chase/effect sequences. There are four Strand dimmer packs providing 24 channels of dimming.

The theatre has very minimal lighting stock as it is most frequently used for simple conferences. The Heywood Society possesses further lanterns, which are commonly removed from the theatre at the end of a run. There are two Strand 19/32 Cadenza profiles in the dome (with space for 2 more lanterns if required, though this position is very high above stage). There are six 1kW fresnels mounted at the sides of the gallery, which serve as the only practical frontlight rigging positions in the auditorium. Up to 8 lanterns may be controlled from these positions but they are very hard to access. A further 7 or 8 fresnels are mounted on two (manual, soon to be motorised) winch-controlled bars (IWBs) above the stage; these light the stage well but are too directly above for effective front or backlight. Winching is a lengthy process and these lights can only be "focussed" at working height, leading to some necessary guesswork. Ladders are not permitted due to safety regulations. There is space and power for another 6 lanterns here. There are two further winch-bars, commonly used for tabs/cyclorama.
The Heywood Society also possesses PARCANs, birdies (which very satisfactorily remedy the frontlight problems), profile spots, and floods, as well as sufficient gels, boom arms, extension leads, stands and other accessories to cater for any lighting design. Heywood latnerns are not allowed to be left in the theatre during conferences.

Extra rigging positions exist at the very rear of the gallery, but realistically only small profiles (the Heywood Society has 2) can fit here due to the proximity of the bar to the wall.
In general, the provided rig (mainly fresnels) is best left alone to provide general washes, with gels being added to vary the texture and feel of the lighting, and specials and extra lanterns added for any effects.

Sound

A surround-sound system (upgraded 2009) exists in the theatre, due to it's dual function as theatre and cinema. The natural acoustic of the room is fine for unamplified concerts and speakers. Sound is controlled from a simple 12-channel desk with a talkback loop; a speaker is mounted in the projection room for the benefit of operators, as with the door shut, very little is audible from outside the room. A permanent rifle mic provides basic amplification for the control room speaker. There are stage dips for microphones and line inputs, primarily for use in conferences. CD and minidisc playback is possible, and there are a range of wired and wireless mics available if required. In general, this venue is much better for unamplified than amplified productions, however.

Last edited Wed 18th Nov 2009 by Nathan Allen

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