Unique All Around: Elizabethan Theatre by Calais
Builder: Conseil Départemental du Pas de Calais
Architect: Studio Andrew Todd
Location: F–62360 Condette
In the nineteenth century John Hare, a close friend of the English author Charles Dickens, refurbished Château d’Hardelot in the Tudor style. Since 2007 the castle, which has an 800-hectare park, has been home to the Centre culturel de l’Entente cordiale. Regular exhibitions, conferences and theatre or music events regularly take place here as a means to strengthen the friendship between France and the UK. Thanks to the growing popularity of the annual Midsummer Festival, which is held in the castle’s garden, the Department of Pas de Calais hosted a competition for the design of a permanent theatre. The ecological and historically appropriate design by British studio Andrew Todd was the winner.
Apart from the closed-in roof, the round floor plan, wood cladding and amphitheatre-like auditorium are a deliberate nod to the round design of the Renaissance-era Elizabethan theatre. London’s Globe Theatre has become famous with the reopening of Shakespeare’s Globe. However, in France the round shape was generally forbidden because of the social hierarchies in place at the time. This makes the Elizabethan Theatre unique to France. In 2014, the theatre was officially inaugurated by HM Elizabeth II on the occasion of a state visit to France.
This Elizabethan theatre, whose permanence, materiality and ecological efficiency make it unique to France, is a successful symbol of respectful cooperation and cultural exchange between countries.