Collective Works created a unique 200-seat temporary theatre in collaboration with the Old Vic Community Company on Millennium Green, Waterloo. The Community Company is London’s largest inclusive theatre company, formed in 2013 to bring together Londoners from every background. The show, Rise, was written specifically for the Community Company by Deidre Kinahan and was a response to real Londoners’ hopes and fears about the environment. The performance itself involved 200 actors, many of whom would be constantly moving through the structure, either on foot or by bicycle.
We brought experience of temporary structures, reusable materials and performance spaces and worked alongside innovative structural engineers Corbett & Tasker as well as set designer Carla Goodman. From the outset we worked closely with the Director and the Community Company to understand the unusual nature of the show and ensure the huge cast could be accommodated, and the show delivered, for just ten days, as efficiently as possible. The resulting structure was a 17m cube, with a pitch set to rise above the stage allowing a second level for the cast and choir to perform. The access was key so 6 entrances were positioned at ground and first floor level to allow all public, cast, performers and crew to get in and out as easily as possible. In response to the show’s theme and in line with the very temporary nature of the performance, the theatre was made entirely from reusable, reclaimed and rented materials. The main structure of scaffolding was professionally assembled and clad with a tensioned tarpaulin of the sort normally used to clad soft-sided commercial vehicles. Rather than traditional foundations the structure relied on water ballast provided by Intermediate Bulk Containers.
We proposed and sponsored the installation of super graphics on the façade, taking the show’s title and applying it in 2m high letters across each public face. As well as performing in the show many of the Community Company worked alongside the scaffolders, set builders, architects and production team to complete the build, making everything from cladding and box office to the props and signage. In order to provide as little disruption to the park as possible, the structure was built in just seven days and completely removed just four days after the final curtain fall.
Tickets were free so over 2000 people, from all walks of life, enjoyed the show and could personally explore the impact of climate change in the city. Following the final performance the materials used went back into commercial usage or found new life through other community projects. The community company also spawned a new offshoot, still performing in London to this day.