An event agency has designed a socially distanced venue solution to enable audiences to return to live events in larger numbers than is possible in conventional venues.
Ric Lipson, co-founder of The Vertical Theatre Group, told Campaign that after attending socially distanced theatre shows he identified a gap for a bespoke solution that didn’t detract from the experience.
Called “The Vertical Theatre” the freestanding venue allows seating in social bubbles and natural ventilation. An adaptable stage design allows for performances in the round, as well as vertical formats.
Lipson said: “We’re not trying to replace those [traditional] venues, they’re just not really set out to make great social distancing things without cutting the audience numbers in half. The Vertical Theatre allows the audience to feel very connected to the performance.
“Although Covid helped create it we think that this is an interesting kind of future. Within this year of thinking about the future, as well as the now, the Vertical Theatre emerged.”
The tourable structures can accommodate groups of between four and 12. Modular in size, an individual venue has the capacity for 1,200 to 2,400 people depending on social distancing rules, and can also be adapted for a time when social distancing is not required.
A versatile design means venues can be built to different scales depending on capacity requirements and facilities. Other features include built-in global streaming capacity and food and beverage facilities.
The Vertical Theatre Group founders are Stufish Entertainment Architects represented by Ric Lipson and Paul Preston; live events and documentary producer Holly Gilliam; theatre producer Katy Lipson; production director Jake Berry; and director and Digital Theatre founder Robert Delamere.
Katy Lipson said: “I truly think that what we’re missing is the ability to perform at a commercially exciting level with socially distant numbers, in a way that doesn’t impact the artistic integrity of a show.
“We’re trying to create something that is viable at this time, and can create an alternative home for many different cultural events.”
The venues are intended to offer an interesting proposition for brands to host launch events, theatre shows or annual general meetings with the capability to broadcast the content live. Once a venue is in situ, branded content could be programmed alongside enriching entertainment for the community, allowing brands to play a role in helping the arts to recover.
Although it is currently unclear when live entertainment will return, Ric Lipson said The Vertical Theatre was not trying to compete with the West End.
“What we’re not trying to do is make this a competition. It’s really important to us that theatres can come back. There’s actually a deficit in the world for this kind of space, for the next year our venue could help take the content that doesn’t have a home right now. In the future, it fills a new void.”