Located under the dramatic new Disney Concert Hall designed by architect Frank Gehry in downtown Los Angeles is REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theatre), a flexible venue set to open next fall with a varied program of world music, modern dance, experimental theatre, film and video, much of it tied in to the teaching programs at CalArts in Valencia, CA.
REDCAT is a "found" space carved out of what was part of the parking garage for the concert hall, that is also scheduled to open in the fall. "They had to cut away the concrete," says CalArts professor and scenic designer Chris Barreca, who played a major role in the design of the space, making sure there is a loading dock large enough for a truck, for example. The official theatre consultant for both REDCAT and the Disney Concert Hall is Fisher Dachs Associates in New York City.
"The theatre is a steel box within a steel box," notes Barreca, pointing out that the garage is virtually sealed in concrete to isolate the theatre. The theatre "floats" on 72 special rubber pads to solve the challenge of being in the garage space. The space will have flexible seating (by Wenger with platforms by Steel Deck), although Mark Murphy, artistic director, and Barreca imagine that the end-stage configuration will be the most popular. To add to the flexibility there are a series of hinged wooden panels along two walls. These are acoustically treated on one side and open to expose loudspeakers for Dolby film sound. When the panels are open, the spaces between them can be used as side lighting positions. They also can be used to create a "proscenium" that measures 40’ wide by 20’ high. There is also a removable 2"-thick sprung dance floor.
State-of-the-art technology includes a dimmer-per-circuit Ethernet-based Strand Lighting system, and five systems of rigging that range from rolling gantry catwalks and trolley units for lighting positions to line shaft winches and spot winches. The space is also wired for internet access and video conferencing.
Sound designer Jon Gottlieb, also on the CalArts faculty, is looking at a digital console for the space. There is a sound mixing position in the back of the house, as well as two levels of control booths for audio, video, lighting, and projection. Technically, the space will be ready for whatever Murphy and the various performers have in mind.