Shakespeare in the Square

A flat pack temporary bar and pavilion draws on one of theatre’s most iconic scenes, to invite playful interaction with the audiences of an engaging community gardens initiative.

Tigg+Coll were invited to realise their winning entry for Domus Nova’s annual pop up bar for Shakespeare in the Square’s production of Romeo and Juliet. The bar toured with performances through 14 squares and gardens across London during the summer of 2017, seeing audiences averaging 300 each night.

Capulet’s Orchard places Act 2, Scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet within one of the most iconic and recognised set formats in cultural history. The metaphor for the rift between the Montagues and Capulets is physically embodied in the placement of Romeo in the orchard grounds below, and Juliet on the balcony above. Taking its cue from the infamous scene, the Domus bar draws on the distinct juxtaposition of this divide and the ultimately tragic magnetism between the two lovers that breach it.

The materiality of the structure, realised by Stella Rossa, enhances this suggestion of conflict through the use of dark solid timber and permeable mesh frame. Traditional Italian vernacular motifs were distilled and simplified. The notion of the traditional 2D theatre backdrop is transformed to form an interactive object that can be considered in the round - a space-forming device. Imagined as a singular vertical plane that is folded and twisted, the bar creases to form a sculptural stair and expands out to carve into the space it inhabits.

Pragmatically, the design had to allow for flexibility for configuration in the various squares, whilst drawing on stage sets allows for its simple assembly, disassembly and transportation from location to location.

The bar can be used from both sides, and can be approached from any direction, which aims to draw the audience in. By creating a structure that can be interacted with directly - the stairs can be used for seating, the bar becomes a platform, its materiality invites people to touch – it becomes more than a static object or theatre backdrop and becomes an engaging and dynamic piece of architecture.