Attractive technology

Grove Theatre, Dunstable

In this versatile space, the transition from theatre to music venue is rapid – and technology is an integral part of the design


When South Bedfordshire District Council decided to build the Grove Theatre, no “end-user” client was in place to follow the work through. So as well as designing the venue, Theatreplan took on the role of theatrical user.


The Grove Theatre is a space that can be used for both seated theatrical productions and standing-only concerts. Flexible auditoria often expose the mechanics that adapt the stage, but that’s not the case at the Grove. Our design integrates technology into the space so that it looks good too.

A new type of cost-effective retractable seating creates a shallow rake in the stalls and gives the auditorium an intimacy. Retractable seating, together with two levels of stage riser, enables the stalls to accommodate a standing audience for gigs. A variety of configurations for the orchestra pit and forestage is enabled through the retractable seating, wagon system and forestage elevator.


The Grove theatre is an adaptable 777-seater theatre that welcomes a range of musical, drama and entertainment performances, as well as community events. It can be transformed quickly into a concert space for 1,000 people.


Society of Theatre Consultants’ Award for Practical Excellence in Design (second place)


“I am particularly pleased with the sound mixing position, which is well conceived. The nineteen circle seats are removed and replaced very easily. The space is engineered to meet the same level as the foyer so that the mixer can run into position without any manual handling.”
Matt Kingslake, Technical Manager Grove Theatre

  • Seating capacity: 777
  • Project venue type: Theatre 
  • Project build type: New build 
  • Location: UK 
  • Completion date: 2007 
  • Project value: £13 million

Share this project: