‘Black box’ theatre addition to Nepean’s civic complex

The existing Centrepointe Theatre at Ben Franklin Place, opened in 1988. Within fifteen years, it became apparent to staff that the lack of rehearsal, storage, workshop, volunteer and administration spaces, as well as inadequate dressing rooms were impeding the theatre’s development and its potential for revenue generation. The addition, completed in 2011 includes a state-of-the-art ‘black box’ studio space seating 253, two-storey lobby, two new dressing rooms, green room, catering kitchen, storage, workshop, administration offices, washrooms, accessible elevator, a larger loading dock and volunteer, multi-purpose, first aid and janitorial rooms.

Site Plan

The intimate setting of the ‘black box’ style theatre attracts smaller dramatic performances, cabaret and dinner theatre, as well as private functions and training. Its flexible seating allows for three configurations: maximized seating; regular seating and a larger stage area; and regular seating with an orchestra pit. All seating can be also be easily retracted to transform the room into a large, flat floored space.

Unconventional for a black-box theatre, the studio features an arched backdrop with a balcony on three sides. This provides various opportunities for dramatic and musical productions, and creates a more adaptable space for functions of various type. The space is complemented with state-of-the-art sound and lighting, a two-storey lobby and greatly expanded service/support and ‘back-of-house’ areas to serve the new theatre as well as enhance the existing facility.

Of particular interest to the Owner was achieving an elevated degree of barrier-free accessibility for the facility, which would surpass the base requirements of the building code. The renovation enhances the facility’s accessibility in the areas of sound enhancement, furniture ergonomics, wheelchair access, emergency exits, emergency lighting, door hardware, ramps, washrooms, clothes storage, signage, elevators, and flooring. 

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