Berkeley Repertory TheatreBerkeley Repertory Theatre
© Robert Canfield
© Robert Canfield

Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre

Berkeley, California

Well respected in America’s network of repertory theatres, and widely known for its community-oriented, interactive and intimate style, the Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s 600-seat Roda Theatre forms the keystone in the downtown Berkeley arts center.

Adding to a three-decade relationship with the Berkeley Repertory Company, Auerbach Pollock Friedlander collaborated with ELS Architects on the theatre’s design and theatrical systems, design of rigging and theatrical lighting control systems and documentation of the theatre systems designs for construction. The challenge was to maintain the same interactive quality of the existing theatre while providing a flexible forum in which to present performances. This was accomplished, in part, by the stage design – completely removable from its front edge to the rear wall and composed of structural floor modules which include traps. It can be deconstructed and configured in many ways, allowing for audience-actor interaction and designers can work steps and other scenery into the front edge of the stage to create a more intimate experience for the audience.

Seating configurations were set to enhance the establishment of rapport between actors and audience, as well as inter-audience communication, with the front of the balcony only 38 feet, and the furthest seat in the mezzanine only 49 feet, from the front edge of the stage.

Architect: ELS
Acoustics: Kirkegaard Associates
Size: 27,893 SF
Cost: $24,000,000
Completion: 2001