This month, Theatre Projects celebrates 65 years in business—that’s 65 years shaping performance spaces, innovating in all areas of entertainment design, and collaborating with creative communities across the globe to reimagine the way we tell stories. All month long, we will be sharing memories on social channels and inviting followers to contribute their own stories and photos via an online memory book.
Now an international mainstay in performance design, Theatre Projects came from much humbler origins. We began as a scrappy lighting rental company in late-‘50s London. Richard Pilbrow and Bryan Kendall started the company by buying up a small bundle of lighting stock for £150, a loan from Richard’s father. Over time, seating and space design, stage and rigging design, AV system design, strategic planning, and other services became part of our scope, and today the six global offices are all composed of multiple, dynamic teams that love to engage with almost any venue-related issue.
“In the last 65 years, we have made quite an impact on the ‘built environment,’ from the simplest of rooms to the most complex facilities in the performing arts,” notes Michael Nishball, Theatre Projects principal and one of the industry’s top equipment designers. “Our impact on the contemporary history of the live entertainment audience-to-performer relationship has been our hallmark and one of our guiding principles.”
Theatre Projects has been attached to over 1,500 projects in 80+ countries since 1957, each unique and challenging in its own right. Each consultant here has their own favorites, but landmark venues include the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts (setting a new precedent for reconfigurable performing arts centers), the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, Derngate Auditorium, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (Richard’s swan song venue), the Esplanade (critical in helping Singapore emerge as a cultural destination), the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, the Dolby Theatre, the National Theatre of London, the New Amsterdam Theatre (a key component of the 42nd Street Renaissance in NYC), the New World Center, the Oslo Opera House, Overture Center for the Arts, Tanglewood, Theatre for a New Audience at Polonsky Shakespeare Center, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall (one of the few acoustically successful vineyard-style concert halls and a feature of the dramatic LA skyline).
“The artists who operate in our venues continue to amaze us, even after our six decades of experience. They find creative uses for the spaces and systems we design that exceed what we imagined. That is a sign of success for us, when their artistry exceeds our dreams, and a testament to our mission of crafting sustainable, timeless platforms where creativity thrives,” says Daniel Ordower, Theatre Projects general manager. “We see so many opportunities, both inside and outside of our venues, for artists, administrators, and all users to rethink the role of the creative space and to contribute to lasting change in diverse communities. Imaginative, inclusive thinking is key to the future of arts and entertainment, and we will continue providing our expertise to those efforts.”
More than the showpiece venues and awards, we value the community we have built in the past six and a half decades: thousands of clients and co-creators, millions of audience members and artists, and of course, all of the amazing people who make up Theatre Projects. We are grateful to all collaborators from the past 65 years and looks forward to working together across many, many more.
(Photo credit: Karen Almond, courtesy of Dallas Theater Center)