Play of the Week – Greatest theatres in the world

Kenya National Theatre (KNT) was recently refurbished. The new look theatre has some teething problems, but that is no reason not to celebrate it because when it is all said and done, it is a national heritage.

The Kenya National Theatre was built in 1952. It was refurbished by Kenya@50 Initiative projects and funded by East Africa Breweries at a cost of Sh100 million. It is a sight to behold but can only hold 365 people.

It may be Kenya’s current theatre, but can it hold a candle to The Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens? If ever there was proof needed that theatre originated in Greece, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus is enough proof.

Historians believe that it was completed in 174AD! It was big enough to hold 5000 people and had a wooden roof. One of the most spectacular sights in Greece.

But can it hold a candle to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus situated on the southwest slope of the Acropolis Hill, Athens that was completed in 174AD. It originally had a wooden roof and a capacity of 5000. The seating and stage was restored in the 1950s.

The Balboa Theatre

The Balboa has its home in San Diego. Named after explore Vasco Nunez de Balboa, it was built in 1924 and refurbished in 2002. Balboa was the first European to discover the Pacific Ocean. The theatre’s sign is a replica of Vasco’s ship which was creating using colors identified from its photographs.

Shakespeare’s Globe Theater (London)

Quite old but still a spring chicken compared to Odeon Herodes Atticus. This was build in 1599 in a vibrant theatre time in London Shakespeare’s Company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men.

It was unfortunately destroyed by a big 1613 fire. A replica of its original, with modern features, was built a few metres from the original one, in 1997. The theatre is the only one allowed to have a thatched roof in the whole of London. Thatched roofs were banned since the great fire of 1666.

It can sit 857 people.

BAM Harvey theater (New York)

This theatre was specifically opened in 1904 specifically for Shakespeare’s plays. However, in 1942, it was converted in to a movie theatre, but a dancer, Harvey Lichtenstein, funded its refurbishment of its interiors so it could operate as a theatre again in 1987. The original ornate detail was retained for historical purposes. Its renovation is said to be one of the most exciting in decades.

The National Noh Theatre

This one is in Tokyo. Constructed in 1983, it was constructed with 400-year-old bishu-hinoki cypress trees. From the stage position it is build like a fan shape and has three open sides. Each seat has a personal subtitling system that can be changed from Japanese to English at the touch of a button. Noh, (meaning “skill” or “talent”) is a form of traditional Japanese musical drama, and plays often last all day.

State Theatre (Sydney)

Opened in 1928. Its design is a mix of Gothic, Italian and art deco styles. It is the home of the second largest chandelier in the world and a priceless Wurlitzer organ.

The National Trust of Australia has classified it as “a building of great historical significance and high architectural quality, the preservation of which is regarded as essential to Australia’s heritage.”

Margravial Opera House (Bayreuth, Germany)

This one is another old girl built in 1745. It is regarded as the finest baroque theater in Europe and was the largest in Europe until 1871. To date, most of the original materials and original structures remain. There is a twin staircase that leads up to the private box belonging to Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreut and his wife so that the audience below could observe the couple ascension to their seats. The two commissioned the theater.

Teatro Amazonas (Manaus, Brazil)

It is located in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, and the Teatro Amazonas is certainly the most spectacular in terms of location. It was designed by Celestial Sacardim, an Italian architect in the late 19th century in a work that took 15 years.

This was because supplies to build the theatre were sourced from all over the world; roof tiles from France, stairs and columns from Italy and steel walls from Glasgow.

There are 198 chandaliers (from Italy) with 38,000 ceramic tiles covering the central dome. The tiles have Brazilian national flag colors.

Tampa Theatre (Florida)

900 pipe Wurlitzer organ and 99 twinkling stars are two of the spectacular structures in the theatre. Built in 1926, it was regarded as the most spectacular structure. Its inside has angry gargoyles and is supposed to resemble a Mediterranean courtyard.

The Tampa is a complexity and elaborate atmospheric design and designer has been described because of it as a mad genius.