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Custom theater tent houses Shakespeare festival

Project Briefs | August 1, 2011 | By:

Vancouver audiences experience Shakespeare in new performance structure.

A new custom theater tent for one of Canada’s largest not-for-profit professional Shakespeare festivals accommodates larger audiences and provides a dynamic performance space for actors. Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach main stage venue seats 742 and was designed specifically for performances of Shakespeare’s work.

“The design and manufacturing of this unique structure was truly an international effort and required considerable project management to bring the various components together on schedule,” says Spencer Etzel, president of The SEC Group of Wilsonville, Ore.

The SEC Group partnered with Baytex Manufacturing Co. Ltd. in New Zealand for design, drafting and fabrication. The Ferrari fabric was manufactured in France and transported to New Zealand for fabrication into roof panels and sidewall. Local fabricators manufactured the steel trusses and specialty parts, and engineering firms in New Zealand and Canada ensured that the structure would pass site-specific codes.

The structure features six steel arches spanning 40 meters in width, 35 meters in length, with a maximum arch height of 12 meters. The main arch is engineered to accommodate the additional weight of extensive stage lighting. Four of the six arches tilt 10 degrees away from center, reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House.

The spring 2011 installation required nearly a week under mostly wet and muddy conditions. Arches were assembled on the ground and lifted into position for anchoring and connection of the supporting purlins. The shape of the roof panels required nontraditional installation methods: kedered clip-on connectors for fabric attachment and tension straps to create the valleys between the arches.

“We were seeking a temporary structure that was not simply bigger than our previous tent, but one that could allow for an improved theatrical experience inside while maintaining a sense of ‘whimsy’ on the outside,” says the festival’s managing director, Rob Barr. “This new structure fits the bill wonderfully; it will become the new summer landmark of the Bard on the Beach site and has already developed the feel of a ‘real theater’ on the inside.”

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