location_ Oaklands Park, Chichester (UK)
completion year_ 2012
photography_Jim Stephenson + Lewis Jones
from the architects_ Commissioned by Chichester Festival Theatre as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations, The Theatre on the Fly provided an experimental venue in which to house a nine-week long season of new programming based around plays by the theatre’s three apprentice directors.
Occupying the boundary between an indoor and outdoor theatre, Theatre on the Fly provided a space capable of both intimate performances and wide dramatic productions that extended into the surrounding parkland.
Its design was inspired by the machinery of a flytower: a theatrical device used for the hoisting and lowering of objects and scenery onto a theatre’s stage during a performance. Theatre on the Fly exposed these intricate and dramatic mechanisms, which are normally hidden from view, transforming the whole building into an experimental, theatrical spectacle that played an active role in each performance.
Built by volunteers ranging in age from 16 to 68, the design used simple processes and economic materials to maximize the involvement of the theatre’s many supporters and create a generosity of space unusual for its limited budget.