The Dai Show Theatre & Dai Show have provided STUFISH with the unique opportunity to design the theatre building and also the set for the show, making us the first practice ever to deliver all architectural and show elements for a theatre. Designing the entire project allowed us to present a holistic architectural language throughout, from the canopy-inspired roof to purpose-built stage elements.

Inside the theatre, the auditorium is arranged so that the audience are seated in the round, surrounding a 1,400sqm stage that is split into three sections. The main central stage has a 14m-wide performance basin containing an 8m wide pool plug which lowers down 5.5m to allow for a dramatic 15m high-dive off the catwalk above. Adjacent is the forestage, which, along with the central stage, can be either wet or dry. The final performance area is a dry upstage section used symbolically to convey a vast infinity and for more practical purposes, such as storing and transporting scenery. Water can flood the areas separately and fill the entire performance basin in 45 seconds and then be drained in just 20 seconds.

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The exterior roof structure covers the auditorium where it has been left exposed, giving the impression that the audience is sat beneath a canopy of palm trees. The low grid height, sitting just 18m above the seats, creates an intimate experience. STUFISH has integrated ten acrobatic gates with an elaborate 3D flying system into the design of the roof structure, allowing performers to fly from the 9m platform and soar above both stage and audience.

The production’s fantastical elements are emphasised by scenery hanging from the grid above and permanent large “dragon roots” that appear to grow out of the stage and create the impression that nature is taking over the architecture. Lighting, projection and special water effects such as cascades and fountains, further support a creative storyline of imagination, love and local legends.

The holistic approach to the complete design has created an extraordinary theatre, where the worlds of architecture and set design have been coherently and magically united.

The building and show opened 25 September 2015

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