The Grade II Listed Gielgud Theatre was opened in 1906 under its former name, the Hicks Theatre. It was designed by W. G. R. Sprague and also known as the Globe Theatre for 85 years, until the reopening of Shakespeare’s Globe theatre on the South Bank.
As part of a major remodelling project, we have been updating the many parts that enables the theatre to function. The key objective was to enable improved experiences for modern theatregoers, from enhanced navigation and circulation to optimised bar and toilet areas, reducing queues and reinvigorating the Soho Theatre brand.
We carried out investigations into the Gielgud Theatre stage, backstage and seating areas were conducted, to determine whether the seat count and box provision could be increased, as well as providing more features to improve accessibility. The investigation included examination of the operational stage areas and considerations into increasing seating capacity and improving sight-lines.
Back of house functions and security are carefully rethought, with an in-depth study of these ‘unseen’ hard-working spaces which are reinvigorated with elements of colour, texture, and light, all designed for durability and safety. The auditorium takes centre stage, but it is the sum of all the parts, from costume stores to bathroom facilities, that enables the whole theatre to function. We particularly focused on the stage door, where several activities need to occur in small and overlapping spaces for the theatre to function. Materials choice was also key. The stage door has always needed to be more robust than the foyer, since it works harder. However, if the theatre is to be rebranded, the finishes need to look smart as well as being enduring. We investigated typography for the rebrand with Fraser Muggeridge Studio.