Theater in Rouen
Rouen’s new theatre, named after the Russian revolutionary dramatist and novelist -Maxim Gorki, was created out of a building that was fitted out in the 1960s as a cinema. Remodelling the interior space and expanding seating capacity was the requirement set out in a competition in 1998. However, it was not until six years later that the renovation was finally completed. Now the auditorium in this drama-only theatre can accommodate 468 people, on banked rows of seating that can be dismantled as required. The seating is new and placed more closely together than in the old cinema hall. Also extended was the stage area, now equipped with a versatile proscenium in front of the main stage. Just outside the auditorium, at the back, is the -foyer with upper-floor gallery, providing -sufficient space for the theatre-goers in the -intervals.
The spectacle starts in this theatre even before the curtain goes up – coloured entirely in fiery red, the hall seems to swallow up the visitors like the jaws of some giant hungry beast. Shades of anthracite used on the front of the stage and the chairs contrast with this. The segmented cladding panels on the ceiling and interior walls of the auditorium are angled to fit the shape of the space. Made of veneered laminated wood, the panels fan out, leaving gaps between them where the angles differ, thus allowing a glimpse of the black background.
Behind the panels is a steel frame to which the 18-mm thick wooden panels are affixed. The lighting is incorporated in rectangular openings at the junction of wall and ceiling cladding. On the long walls behind the cladding is a black-varnished steel walkway, visible to the audience as it breaks through to cross the auditorium at ceiling level. This walkway gives the lighting and stage technicians access for maintenance and installation work. The main problem with the old cinema hall was its poor acoustics, improved in the new theatre by fitting the panels. All the cladding panels and the flooring, also of veneered laminated wood, are in red, the colour of the Communist Party and highly appropriate for the theatre’s namesake.