For the first time in a century the Grade I listed Theatre Royal Drury Lane has been completely refurbished to cutting edge production standard, from the back of the house through the auditorium to the original reception rooms. The building is now fully accessible, with enhanced functional use for a wider variety of theatrical performances. Theatre Royal Drury Lane has always been at the forefront of lighting technology, whether whale oil, gas or electricity - and this scheme is no exception. The lighting had to reveal the architecture, provide drama and atmosphere while respecting the historic importance of the building. Our approach was to create contemporary lighting effects that clearly drew inspiration from the past. We merged lighting methods of the 19th and 21st centuries; dimming technologies used previously only on stage and in the auditoria have been adopted throughout the whole building to maximise flexibility and balance the same level of sensitivity and ambience across all areas of the visitor experience.
Each individual space looks to the original design of 1810; drawings, financial records and publications from the theatre’s long history were studied to determine the focus of the lighting in each space, whether low level standard, wall sconce or chandelier. Using this as our starting point we employed a series of hidden fixtures to reduce contrast, wash ceilings, spotlight artworks or integrated details to fixed furniture, steps or handrails. This collection of hidden details suggests the light emanates from the historic light fixtures.