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Known originally as the Library Theatre and opened in 1971, The Shaw Theatre is located close to St Pancras in London’s Somers Town. Later renamed after the great Irish playwright and novelist George Bernard Shaw, it has since 2009 acted primarily as a receiving house, presenting short to medium-length runs of productions from both regional theatre and independent theatre companies. Following major refurbishment in 1998 the theatre provides 446 seats, two large foyers, spacious dressing rooms and extensive backstage facilities which include a workshop and even a laundry.
Unlike many of London’s theatres, the Shaw is a true multi-purpose venue which also hosts exhibitions, comedy, creative arts and corporate events, making the demands on the technical infrastructure even more strenuous than usual. The existing audio installation had seen many years service and in early 2010 Autograph Sales & Installations’ Chris Austin received a call from the theatre seeking assistance. That call resulted in the company working for the theatre in a technical consultancy role during which they replaced a loudspeaker processor, conducted a system-wide fault analysis and spent an entire day re-tuning the revamped equipment. This improved the performance so markedly that the old system remained in use for a further year.
When the opportunity to replace the old system arose, Autograph Sales & Installations were consequently the natural choice of technical partner, and have recently completed a ground-up replacement programme of which the core components are Meyer Sound UPA-1P compact wide-coverage loudspeakers, UMS-1P subwoofers and a mix of UPM-1P and UPM-2P ultra-compact units for front fills and slip infills. System control is handled by a Xilica XP-4080 processor.
As with many theatres space in the Shaw is at something of a premium so the use of self-powered loudspeakers (and the subsequent removal of outboard amplifier and processing racks) has freed-up some much needed new real estate. The project was planned and completed in two phases by Autograph Sales & Installations to comply with the client’s funding requirements.
Chris said ‘The Shaw Theatre posed us a number of technical and budgetary challenges, but our ability to adopt a variety of roles as the project progressed allowed us to ultimately realise their vision. Working co-operatively with the client and sharing a long-term understanding is the key in situations like this’.
John-Jackson Almond, Artistic Director of the Shaw Theatre said, 'Our refurbishment was a lengthy process for a variety of reasons, but one of the constants throughout it was the attentiveness and professionalism of the Autograph team. Their flexibility and willingness to continually adapt to an evolving situation made the whole project less stressful than it could have been, and the finished result is exceptional. We are very pleased'.