You wouldn’t recognize Long Wharf Theatre’s Mainstage these days. The hum of activity around the theatre isn’t from audiences flooding the space for an evening at the theatre – it’s construction crews buzzing through their work.
Two weeks into the Mainstage’s $3.8 million renovation project, the process is moving apace, said architect Rick Wies, of the New Haven firm Gregg, Wies, and Gardner. The demolition work has radically changed the theatre. The box office and bathrooms are stripped. Scaffolding lines the interior of the theatre above the stage, being used to remove the ceiling and the mechanical systems located there. Most importantly for generations of patrons, the old seats are long gone.
Wies said that he and theatre administration decided to move away from a design aesthetic particular to the early days of the institution – the dignity of poverty. The idea in theatrical design when Long Wharf Theatre was first founded in 1965 was that spaces, including the lobby, should be inherently neutral, or even spare, in order to allow the production to be the focal point of the evening. “The previous iteration of the theatre could be described as neutral, minimalist, bottom line, functional, and economic,” Wies said. “It was full of Yankee ingenuity, making something out of nothing.”
To see more photos of the project, click here