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Theatre with red seats and house lights on

New audience seating in the Royal College of Music’s beautiful Britten Theatre

Thursday 19 October 2023

Over summer 2023, the Royal College of Music refurbished the Britten Theatre including replacing all the audience seating to improve comfort levels and sight lines. 

Designed by Sir Hugh Casson, the Britten Theatre was opened by the late Queen in 1986 and contained 400 original ‘Hilly Horizon’ conventional folding theatre chairs, which have been in use for over 35 years. One of the H’s most prestigious venues, the theatre regularly holds full-scale opera productions, talks, jazz performances and chamber concerts, and is available for commercial hire.

The H partnered with Audience Systems, a specialist chair supplier who have worked with venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and the Sydney Opera House, to find a replacement that would sit comfortably with the building’s interior and heritage, while providing the comforts of a 21st-century design. Made in a two-tone red fabric in keeping with the heritage of the theatre, the new chairs are durable and designed with a back-rest shaped for comfort, as well having a soft closing mechanism.

The new chairs have also improved the sight lines from designated wheelchair user seats and include removeable seats for easy implementation of audition panels and technical equipment desks. A new balustrade and curtains have also been installed, alongside LED floor lighting to increase visibility for audiences.

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Aida Berhamovic, Director of Estates at the Royal College of Music, comments: ’I am delighted with the new Britten Theatre seats by Audience Systems, whose fitting team helped us complete the work within a three-week window during the 2023 summer break. The College’s ongoing mission is to enhance our students’ experience, and we continue to invest in our facilities to ensure our students have the very best opportunities.’

The Royal College of Music is grateful to the Foyle Foundation for their support of the new Britten Theatre seating and refurbishment. The foundation is a Leadership Supporter of the H, and a longstanding supporter of several major capital projects. Their generous gift towards the Britten Theatre seating and refurbishment follows on from previous significant gifts towards investments in the H facilities including the transformation of the Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall in 2008 and the More Music building development in recent years.

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This news item appears in the 2023 Autumn edition of Upbeat magazine.

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