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22 The original inspiration and planning behind the UJ Arts Centre is an example of how the careful consideration of every facet and angle of a theatres creation coalesces to create a complete sensory experience. How did principal architects Mashabane Rose achieve this Anyone whos been subjected to an evening of awful karaoke is there any other kind will know that a great performance is not simply a case of possessing a fairly decent voice a mic and chutzpah. When it comes to staging productions of a professional caliber so much more goes into ensuring that the interaction between the audience and the performers is as close to sublime as mere mortals can achieve. THEY TOOK THEIR INSPIRATION FROM PRIOR SUCCESS STORIES Places such as the Glyndebourne Opera House and Saddlers Wells in the United Kingdom and the Intimate Playhouse in Australia were proof of how reverting to the traditional horseshoe shape but still incorporating more modern fixtures allowed the audience to be drawn into the stages action as opposed to it being thrust at them and this is the seminal design adopted for the Arts Centre. ALL THE WORLDS A STAGE HERES HOW THE UJ ARTS CENTRE COMPARES The stage itself has a twelve metre wide proscenium with wings half that width which is the contemporary standard. The grid is two and a half times the height of the proscenium and fitted with a double purchase counterweight system with bars on two hundred millimetre centimetres. There is also both a working and a loading gallery within the fly tower. Although a fine floor looks wonderful stage scenery often needs to be screwed into the floor or a production designer will invariably want to change the floor paint from dark brown to bright orange. As a result the sub-floor is covered with a tempered masonite skin which is both cheap and easily replaced. The large dock door means a large truck can easily pull up to the theatre and load or offload a variety of props. THE UNIVERSITYS STUDENTS WERE INTEGRAL TO THE PLANNING In a space that caters to and for the Universitys students it is imperative that intimacy and close contact between the viewer and performer are kept front-of-mind. This is the place in which students will take their first initially tentative steps as adult performers where every nuance of the parts they play of the notes they attempt to sing will be dissected discussed and ranked. The last thing you want is an auditorium that leaves them and their talents feeling positively Lilliputian. Such a space also offers enormous physiological benefits when you do everything possible to ensure young performers feel as close as possible to their audience they are less tempted to push their partially trained voices thus averting the potential for damaged vocal chords UJ also incorporated the same technique Beyreuth used to bring its singers SUBLIMEDESIGN THE PLANNING AND INSPIRATION BEHIND THE UJ ARTS CENTRE Nadia Pisanti