The Association of British Theatre Technicians

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MARCH 2015




ABTT presents a visit to the Dorfman Theatre at The National, London


Image credit Philip Vile


RSVP to the office by Monday 23rd March.

Download the pdf. flier here ABTT Theatre Visit to the Dorfman Theatre London   for full information, directions & travel notes.

Date: Thursday 26th March 2015

Venue: The Dorfman entrance is on the east side of the National Theatre, on Stage Door Avenue, opposite the IBM building.


Time: Meeting at 11.10am in the Dorfman Theatre

Schedule for the day;

11.10am: Gather for tea/coffee/biscuits. Dorfman foyer

11.30am: Dorfman auditorium for discussion of ‘design brief, challenges etc by National Team’ which would include CharcoalBlue

12.15pm: Tours  to include new areas e.g High Level Walkway to see Scenic Studio, Props, Assembly area

1.00pm: All together – in Temporary  Theatre  ( formally the Shed ) for any other questions / end of session

1.15pm: END

As part of the £83m refurbishment of the National Theatre – NTFuture – the Cottesloe Theatre closed in February 2013 to be transformed in to the Dorfman, opening in October 2014.

The third of the NT’s auditoria to open in 1977, it retains the feel of an Elizabethan inn-yard theatre with galleries on 3 sides, and on 2 levels.

Paddy Dillon, the lead architect for Howarth Tompkins recognised the importance of special qualities and flexibility of the Cottesloe yet acknowledged that there were much needed improvements, along with increased capacity and daytime use issues that needed to be addressed.

Technical control boxes moved one level up to allow for 2 rows of seats to be installed in their place, with 2 rows of seats in the other galleries.

With the seating capacity up to 450 from 300 this required relocation and increase of audience facilities; the installation of a lift; more foyer space as well as an ‘overflow’ for audiences by using the Cottesloe Room (part of the Clore Learning Centre. The upstairs area of which houses the Duffield Room and access to the Sherling High Level Walkway). The new cloakroom is in the space previously occupied by the Props Department.

Changes to stage equipment have improved the flexible nature of the auditorium, allowing theatre-makers even greater creative possibilities – to be achieved in faster times.

There are 430 new ETC censor dimmer racks; lighting bridges have been extended to the sides of the room, allowing easier rigging access; house lighting is now all LED using GDS fittings.

The new seating system enables the NT to use the auditorium for learning activities during the day, with a flat floor, while reverting to raked seating for an evening show. The innovation of the elevators, a design concept by Charcoalblue LLP, also helps to address the issues of air handling and seat storage.

To facilitate lighting any part of the Dorfman, as the design dictates, only 24 basic rig moving lights are installed allowing lighting designer wider creative scope, installation comprising of 12 TW1’s and VL 1100’s.

The improvements will mean that an extra 27,000 people each year can gain access to what are often sold-out performances as well as extending the breath of outreach and engagement through education work.

The visit will focus on the Dorfman spaces with short tours to showcase the new Max Rayne Centre and will end in the Temporary Theatre (formally The Shed, built as part of the NTFuture project, to hyouse the third strand of work while the Cottesloe was out of action).


Dorfman Theatre
at The National Theatre,
South Bank,