Much ado about Gdańsk and its flexible new theatre.

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It’s taken more than two decades of effort and three years of construction but the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre finally opened its doors last year. This is a unique achievement; not only is the building the first drama theatre to be built in Poland in almost forty years, but it utilizes up to the minute design and technology to recreate an authentic experience of Elizabethan theatre.

Designed by Renato Rizzi, an Italian architect and professor of the Academy of Fine Arts of Venice, the new venue is located on the site of a seventeenth century wooden playhouse known to have hosted fencing lessons, animal fights and theatrical performances from the early 1600s. It’s not by chance that Shakespeare’s dramas are recorded among these; the Shakespeare Theatre is a testament to the cultural link between Gdańsk and London.

Although the building appears immovable, with its heavy windowless exterior, the functionality inside is highly mobile. An adaptable auditorium permits various stage configurations: a proscenium arch, or, more typical of the era, in-the-round; and with the only retractable theatre roof in the world, the venue can also transform into a traditional open air environment.

d&b Distributor and local specialist Konsbud Audio was responsible for providing a technical solution to support the flexibility of the theatre. “Our engineers paid special attention to two aspects,” explained Piotr Jankiewicz, Director of the Design and Integration Department at Konsbud. “First designing a mobile system to accommodate the various stage configurations, and second, to find a solution for the galleries that would ensure the audience on all three levels could comfortably hear the words of the actors, without putting too much emphasis on the sound reinforcement system.”

d&b T10s, with V-SUBs for the low end, comprise the main system, powered by D80 amplifiers. “We chose d&b audiotechnik products because the individual loudspeakers were the optimal dimensions, easy to install and offered high functionality,“ explained Jankiewicz. “The T10s also have a patented mounting system that enables the loudspeakers to be assembled and rigged as a line array by just two people. The T10 loudspeakers can work both in line source mode and in point source mode. So the same loudspeakers can provide, during one performance, a line array system, and at another, they can be used individually as point sources for the purpose of sound reinforcement in the auditorium. Furthermore, the system can be freely reconfigured and adjusted to fit the needs of a specific play or performance, or, if necessary, completely dismantled.” For the audience seated in the galleries, small 4S loudspeakers are discreetly installed into the ceiling above each of the three levels, colour matched and incorporated in special housings to sensitively integrate with the architecture inside the hall.

Konsbud Audio’s sensitive approach to this historic landmark turned technologically sophisticated building, has resulted in a sound system as adaptable and efficient as the theatre itself. For audiences this means they can experience all the drama of the seventeenth century, while enjoying all the technical comforts of the modern age.

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