Wednesday, 5 November 2008

A new Cultural Venue for a Midland's city - Curve, Leicester, UK

Leicester's eagerly anticipated performance venue, threw open its doors yesterday to give locals a sneak preview behind its signature curved glass facade.

Pensioners and parents with young children alike braved a cold, grey November Saturday afternoon to inspect the £65-million Curve venue that replaces the much-loved Haymarket Theatre.

Supporting Curve’s theatre-for-all-ethos, the day’s events were completely free and 25 people at a time took turns to tour behind the scenes of architect Rafael Viñoly’s state-of the-art venue. Those waiting patiently in queues that stretched along the curved glass-panelled window were entertained by a steel band and stilt-walking courtesans. Purple branded balloons and paper flags were also handed out to create the ‘family gala’ atmosphere that organisers had hoped for.

Groups were led through the Studio Theatre and then headed up to an airy mezzanine level that one middle-aged Leicester man described as feeling just like a modern football stadium. The mezzanine overlooks Orton Square, which was inaugurated earlier that day. Next, young and old threaded a path along backstage corridors, not yet full-fitted and decorated, below stage and into the orchestra pit. A full stage-sized rehearsal room and a two-storey high dance studio later, and each tour grouped came to the main auditorium to sit down in brand-new seats for a question and answer session.

Fireworks closed the day, before visitors ebbed away from what is the centre-piece of Leicester’s new Cultural Quarter in the Rutland Street area of the city. A local dance teacher commented that, “the facilities are amazing, but I hope that studio hire rates aren’t too expensive for dance schools to afford.” Others craned their necks to look up again at the great glass wall before heading into the city centre. Curve’s first show, Lift off, opens on 11th November.