Total Eclipse of the Park
by Andrew Wilson
Think of it as a kind of eclipse: for first time since it opened five years ago, Park Theatre’s doors will be closed to the public for an entire week, January 15th to 22nd.
No actor will tread either of the two stages; none of the bar staff will be serving coffees, cocktails or the ever-popular pastéis de nata (custard tarts); no students having Deep Conversations by the big windows on the second floor.
But behind the closed doors, the building will be abuzz as major cleaning, fixing and refurbishment gets underway.
Theatre people refer to non-performance days as being “dark,” and a completely dark week is an unusual event. In this case, the week was planned nine months ago.
“We’ve had five years of up to 300 people a day passing through our doors, which means a lot of wear-and-tear,” says Artistic Director Jez Bond. He lists some of the tasks that will be done during the week: floors sanded and re-stained; letters reattached to signs; doors painted; locks changed; deep cleaning in the kitchen. Under-stage lighting in Park200 will be enhanced at the somewhat tricky left and right corners downstage, and the building’s electrical circuits – which need to be certified every five years – will all be tested.
Will patrons be able to see the difference when Here or There opens in Park90 on January 23, and Rothschild & Sons in Park200 on the following night?
We'll be casting some light here.
“Some they’ll definitely see, but more of it they won’t,” he says. Which is probably a good description of successful theatre in general – it’s often the hard work done out of sight that allows the magic to happen onstage.