Centrepointe Studio Theatre
The Centrepointe Theatres, owned and operated by the City of Ottawa, have a mandate of community service which is fulfilled in part through its volunteer company, operating in partnership with professional theatre staff. Novita were the theatre consultants for the first phase of the facility, a 954-seat auditorium which opened in 1988. A studio theatre, at a scale more appropriate for emerging artists and community groups, was a part of the original plan, but the funding was not available until 23 years later - when Novita was finally able to complete the project.
The design of the 245-seat Studio Theatre was guided by two principles: flexibility, and ease of use for volunteers. A major component in achieving these aims is a tension grid composed of woven steel cable 2" apart, creating a technical gallery 6 metres above the entire space. This grid has a live load capacity of 1,000 lbs, and is designed to be seismically safe, as Ottawa is in an earthquake zone. Pipes for lighting instruments can be affixed to roof-secured hangers, which sit above the grid at a comfortable working height for hanging, positioning, and focusing lights. The grid eliminates the need for lifts and ladders, which is important for the safety of inexperienced workers, and greatly improves set-up times. Lights can be hung virtually anywhere, allowing for any kind of desired configuration below, in conjunction with the retractable seating. Adding to the flexibility, the roof steel may also be used as rigging points, to hang almost anything from cable passing through the 2" square holes. A 5' x 5' opening in the grid above the stage can be left closed, or opened to raise and lower scenic elements. The grid is virtually invisible from below.
The lighting equipment package is intended to serve the multipurpose nature of the space, and to expand the existing inventory. Equipment from the same manufacturer as the existing theatre's lighting was chosen for continuity and volunteer familiarity. Another aspect of the space which supports the volunteer program is the exceptionally large control booth. Spanning almost the entire width of the Studio, it can easily accommodate 2 or 3 trainees around a control console.
In addition to community groups, the space may be rented for corporate and private events, or media outlets and established artists needing an intimate space in which to record shows or broadcast special events. For the needs of media companies, cable passes were installed in the loading dock and run between the main stage and studio theatre. The expansion was an opportunity to enhance the capabilities of the entire facility.
The Studio Theatre, a green, sustainable space (it is currently a candidate for LEED Silver certification), is a welcome addition to Ottawa's smaller cultural venues.