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Report - - Alexandra Palace Theatre and Rooftops - London - Feb 2011 | Theatres and Cinemas | 28DaysLater.co.uk
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Report - Alexandra Palace Theatre and Rooftops - London - Feb 2011



Speed

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#1
Decided this place was well overdue a proper visit so headed down there at the weekend with Team Z. I wasnt expecting it to be that interesting, it had apparently been stripped of everything but the plasterwork! That could not be further from the truth tho really, there was loads of decent bits, lots of really old theatre equipment and stuff you just dont see anymore.. My favorites probably being the under stage lifts for making people dissepear and the remains of some salt water dimmers for the lighting! Both the plasterwork and back stage areas were amazing too, expecially those fly towers!

We ended up spending hours in there, met at 10pm and left at 5am! spent a good couple of hours ninj0ring it about on the roof exploring some of the other nooks and crannies of the place aswell. The Palace has had a bit of a chequred history being both the home of TV broadcasting and having a massive fire in the 1980s. Theres plenty of abandoned areas dotted about the place and two preserved TV studios full of equipment and ephemera, so theres enough for a return visit id say! ;)

theatrestrust said:
Johnson’s partner, Alfred Meeson, designed the first Palace which burnt down in 1873, soon after it was built. It was immediately replaced by the present building. Although the theatre is large, it forms a relatively small part of the entire Palace complex, whose history is not traced in this entry. It is not known whether Johnson had assistance with the design of the theatre, but the evidence of the building itself suggests that it was the work of someone with little previous experience of theatre design. Its history has been depressing. It was an abject commercial failure in the decades when theatre business generally was at its most profitable. The theatre, last used as a television scene store, now looks abandoned. It is completely embedded in the Palace complex. Although it has one external wall, its separate identity is not discernible in the long north elevation of the Palace. The auditorium is extraordinary - more like a big music hall or concert hall than a theatre; a great rectangular room with raked floor, the long sides now occupied by low enclosed corridors (presumably inserted to improve means of escape) which give the impression of side slips. There is a single balcony, facing and far distant from the stage and there was originally a second, upper balcony, now removed. The present appearance of the room probably owes more to Macqueen Pope, who ordered the 1922 alterations, than to Johnson. Coarse plaster ornament of two periods, the bolder work on the ceiling not unpleasing. Figure sculpture, probably original, in niches either side of the proscenium. The existing, faded ‘toy theatre’ colour scheme, although not original, is highly evocative. The most interesting survival is the stage, designed for elaborate transformations. It has a fine complex of wooden machinery both below stage and in the fly tower, all in restorable condition. A primitive set of scene grooves from this theatre is now in the possession of the Museum of London. The auditorium is one of the oldest now surviving in London; archaeologically of rare interest but intractable as a theatre. It would make a splendid concert room or large cabaret restaurant, if there was ever call for such an enterprise in N22. The future, if it has one, must lie with music and variety, rather than drama. Alternatively, the auditorium might be reconstructed in a more intimate and usable form and the stage restored as a spectacular working exhibit for public enjoyment.
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