Playhouse Makes-up

May 29 2023 | By More

Playhouse dark for 12 week maintenance

The Playhouse is currently dark for a planned 12 week maintenance programme that includes rejuvenating its facade and a number of technical upgrades to the auditorium and back stage.

Most visible to anyone passing the venue is the scaffolding across the full frontage of the building. This is to provide protection from the elements while stone cleaning and various smaller repairs to to the stonework takes place.

Playhouse Scafolding this week. Pic Thom Dibdin

According to a detailed planning application for the Grade A listed, 94 year-old building, beside the cleaning work, the majority of the work on the facade is to make good the remains of redundant fixtures across the frontage.

However, there are also various cracks, places where the mortar needs replacing – particularly along balustrade at the top of the facade – and a few areas where stones appear to have been displaced and could cause a hazard.

There is also cracking to the stonework of the stone frieze around the central entrance, which appears to be stained, possibly caused by water ingress via open mortar joints above. There is evidence of past repairs and painted coatings to some parts of the frieze.

The conservation report indicates that this not an easy or quick process. All the mortar needs to have the same constitution as the original, the cleaning away of old material has to be done in a way that doesn’t open up more cracks, and the new mortar has to be able to dry out naturally.

Indicative stone conservation mark-ups – by Frew Conservation for Playhouse planning application. Click to view full size.

In a separate application, two new roof-lights will be created to provide occasional maintenance access to the roof and to the balustrade.

On the right hand side of the building, in Upper Greenside Lane, anti-graffiti paint has to be removed as it has built up over the years and stops the stone underneath from being able to breath. Further down the lane, a separate application shows new flues running up the side of the building.

According to a statement from the Playhouse, inside the building – and on the roof, but hidden behind the facade and not subject to planning applications – the heating and ventilation in the auditorium is being upgraded.

According to the Playhouse, this will: “leave us with a more effective, more reliable and a more environmentally friendly system. There will also be a brand new control system for the venue’s very old manual orchestra pit.”

This phase of work has been 18 months in the planning and follows two key phases of work which have already been completed at the venue.

In 2016 brand new seating and floor coverings were installed throughout the stalls and circle. An additional 18 washrooms were added to the Mezzanine Bar level.

In 2020/21 a brand new scene dock was constructed which allowed for better backstage access, storage and movement. This allows the theatre to continue to receive some of the biggest touring productions that are seen in Scotland.

The Playhouse will re-open August 4 with Forth on the Fringe. Full Playhouse listings are here: Playhouse Listings.

The chillers from the old ventilation system being lifted off the building by crane. Pic: Edinburgh Playhouse Twitter.


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