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Shaping a 21st Century Solution To Fit An Architectural Achievement Of The 50s!

A Cambridge high school with a challenging staging problem called on experts Mainstage to provide a versatile and flexible solution. Impington Village College, which became an Academy in February 2012, was designed in the 1950s. It was classed as a remarkable achievement and influenced the design of school buildings and school halls in subsequent generations. Designed by Walter Gropius and Maxwell Fry it was later described by architectural expert Nikolaus Pesvener as one of the best buildings of its date in England, ‘if not the best’. There is, no doubt, though that many drama teachers in the UK certainly would not view this achievement with the same ‘rose tinted spectacles’. It they who are forced to spend a great deal of time and effort battling to get non professional voices to project beyond the brick proscenium arch, which is a typical feature of this stage design. This rectangular frame around the edge of the stage, coupled with the striking Grade One Listed curved steps, which put an effective barrier between the performers and their audience, contributed greatly to Impington Village College’s staging problems. They called on portable staging and seating experts Mainstage to help them find an innovative and versatile solution.

BEFORE: The interesting Grade one listed curved steps, which cannot be drilled or screwed into, before the installation of the new stage.

AFTER: Just 20 minutes later the new Cameo stage is ready for rehearsals of the College’s production of Romeo and Juliet.

Mainstage Ltd, who design, manufacture and supply their own range of portable staging, worked closely with the college to come up with the best solution for the location, situation and budget. And the team found exactly the right answer – a specially adapted version of one of their mid-range, tried and tested Topdeck Cameo stages, a flexible, lightweight yet robust solution which combines simplicity and strength.

“The challenge of creating a demountable stage to solve the problems was made more complex by having to engineer the Cameo decks to fit tightly round the outside curve of the stage,” explained Mainstage’s Managing Director Mike Sweetland.

“And this is exactly where our experience in these matters came into play. A number of Cameo portable stage sections were actually specially shaped to fit the existing stage.”

“The sections were easily installed one Sunday afternoon in about 20 minutes by a single person and the newly extended stage was immediately ready for action.”

Topdeck Cameo is:

  • Erected, dismantled, moved and packed away with the minimum of fuss and effort.
  • Quickly and easily assembled by one or two people.
  • Easily transported and stored.
  • Stackable for efficient storage.
  • Available in a range of finishes including carpeted and varnished options.

CLOSE UP: This shows the remarkable tight fit achieved with the new Cameo stage extension – sparkling against the very ‘experienced’ existing stage with its chewed edges.