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London Apollo Theatre Accident

 
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gncxxOffline
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PostPosted: 19-12-2013 23:42    Post subject: London Apollo Theatre Accident Reply with quote

Full story:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-25458009

Quote:
More than 80 people have been injured, four seriously, after part of a ceiling in London's Apollo Theatre collapsed during a show, police say.

The venue in Shaftesbury Avenue was packed for a performance of The Curious Incident Of The Dog in the Night-Time.

Eyewitnesses heard "a crackling" noise before the collapse at about 20:15 GMT. Theatre-goers left covered in debris.

London Ambulance said there were 81 walking wounded and that all those who were trapped earlier had been freed.

Some 25 ambulance crews and an air ambulance attended the scene, it said.

London Fire Brigade said four people were seriously injured but none have life-threatening injuries.

It said its "search is now complete" and the theatre has been sealed off.

Eight fire engines and more than 50 firefighters attended the incident in London's busy West End theatre district, along with hundreds of police officers.

The Apollo's ornate plasterwork ceiling collapsed and brought part of the lighting rig down, it said...


At least nobody was killed, but a grim story for the festive season.

I seem to recall reading or hearing recently that many London theatres cannot afford to renovate, either because their buildings are listed or they have to keep putting on shows and have to time for repairs - does that sound familiar to anyone? I'll be darned if I can remember where I read/heard that, but it looks like the Apollo is paying the price now if true.
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gncxxOffline
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PostPosted: 20-12-2013 18:11    Post subject: Reply with quote

Found it:
http://therockingvicar.com/?p=3037

Very prescient.
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OneWingedBirdOffline
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PostPosted: 20-12-2013 18:55    Post subject: Reply with quote

English Heritage don't tend to be that strung out about Grade 2 listed.

I only caught a snipped on the news this morning while I was in the gym, lack of investment in the buildings seemed to be getting fingered as an issue.
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SpookdaddyOffline
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PostPosted: 21-12-2013 09:53    Post subject: Reply with quote

gncxx wrote:
...I seem to recall reading or hearing recently that many London theatres cannot afford to renovate, either because their buildings are listed or they have to keep putting on shows and have to time for repairs - does that sound familiar to anyone? I'll be darned if I can remember where I read/heard that, but it looks like the Apollo is paying the price now if true.


I've worked on builds in many West End Theatres over the years - although not the Apollo.

Pressure of time is a major issue - the buildings are very expensive to run and none of the groups who now own most of them (Nimax, in this case) are exactly keen to set aside time when it will cost them lost revenue on top of actual investment – maintenance therefore tends to be squeezed into the gaps between productions and is often expected to occur at the same time that installations are taking place. Those groups also often have an odd attitude as to where money should be spent. (A job I worked on earlier this year was the refurbishment of the wigs and wardrobe departments of a very well known show. It’s been in the same venue for nearly thirty years but this was the first time that the working environment of that department had received any real attention, despite the fact that the show in question is very wigs/wardrobe heavy. Effectively, the work and storage areas were more or less as they were when the departments squeezed themselves into the space nearly three decades ago. I suspect most people in the audience would find it hard to believe what a cramped and Dickensian environment the people who make it look good have to work in.)

Another issue is that West End shows are often huge installations which require actual physical changes to the spaces they fit (which to the uninitiated almost always appear surprisingly small) - which means that many theatres have been severely butchered over the years. (I've seen sections of wall demolished, dock doors filled in and relocated, grids raised - all kinds of major engineering.) Also ceilings which were built in the Victorian/Edwardian era have been cut up, drilled into, and generally messed about over several generations in order to rig hanging points for LX and sound work. (I should point out that stuff is not attached to the ceiling – it’s attached to roof members or other structural elements or specifically installed hanging points, but in order to get to those points the ceiling has to be adapted – usually by the simple expedient of having holes cut in it.)

There are also often heritage related limits to what you can do - which can complicate apparently simple jobs. Even some stuff the audience never see can’t be removed or messed with: old wooden stage machinery often takes up a lot of space – for example this is the old thunder-run at Her Majesty’s. (In some places you also have the extra headache of planning works so that you avoid disturbing or damaging asbestos.)

In my experience most of this work is done very carefully, with the appropriate licensing, and overseen by qualified engineers - but I don’t doubt that over the years that potential problems may have been created.

For what it’s worth I suspect this was caused by a common problem in all older buildings where lath and plaster has been used: the keys (the curls of plaster that bulge around the back of the laths) which hold the face in position get knocked off over time – especially common in areas where other works have taken place - or crack due to the strains caused by surrounding structural settlement, excessive heat and or water ingress etc. If a large enough area becomes compromised this then increases the stresses on the surrounding keys, which in turn degrade – eventually you can have a relatively large area of plaster which is effectively floating and only held in place by the connection along it’s edges to more stable areas, and this will fail at some point.

I doubt there’s an actual structural problem as Nimax’s website claims the theatre will be open again in early January – unless that’s just wishful thinking.

(Despite some of the much more obviously dangerous things I've done over my life my closest ever brush with death actually came about in a theatre. And boy, was it close. But that's another story.)
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 21-12-2013 18:58    Post subject: Reply with quote

Less serious incident.

Quote:
Blackpool Scrooge show halted after actor hit by scenery
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-25461320

Tommy Steele (second left) is starring as Ebenezer Scrooge in the show
A Christmas show in Blackpool had to be halted after part of the scenery fell and injured a cast member's leg.

The scenery collapsed at the start of the second half of Scrooge the Musical, which stars Tommy Steele, at the Opera House, in the Winters Gardens.

The unnamed male cast member was treated by paramedics before being taken to hospital.

Winter Gardens boss Michael Williams said the last three shows will run as planned, until Saturday.

Mr Williams said the actor was hit by a piece of one of the mobile sets.

'Show can't continue'
He said: "The performance was halted while the actor was treated for a leg injury by paramedics.

"We kept the audience informed at all times and all visitors to last night's show are invited to come along to one of the remaining performances in the run.

"We are currently investigating how this occurred and all shows will run as planned until 21 December."

Audience member Graham Aspden, from Darwen, said: "We could hear him say 'Ow'.

"We had to wait 20 minutes and they came back on and said they couldn't move him [because] they were still waiting for the paramedics.

"We knew there was something wrong as we could hear everything on the mikes attached.

"Then they said, 'Sorry the show can't continue'."

Bill Kenwright's production of Scrooge, which opened in Blackpool on Monday, has been staged at the London Palladium.

Tommy Steele stars as Ebenezer Scrooge on the show, based on Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol.
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 21-12-2013 19:12    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another great idea by Boris. When has the Fire Service ever turned a profit? No need for them, people can dig themselves out when the next theatre collapses.

Quote:
Apollo Theatre collapse fire crews set to be axed
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25477173

Firefighter and police officer outside the Apollo Theatre

Eight fire stations in total sent crews to the Apollo Theatre after part of the ceiling collapsed

Three fire stations which sent crews to attend the Apollo Theatre after part of the ceiling collapsed are set to be axed in the new year.

Crews from Knightsbridge, Southwark and Westminster stations, set for closure, attended the Shaftesbury Avenue incident which left 76 people injured.

The Fire Brigades Union said: "If the cuts go ahead, the mayor will end up with blood on his hands."

Previously, London mayor Boris Johnson said the service must be modernised.

London Fire Brigade said it was confidant it could react to any emergency situation with the resources in place after the cuts.

Fire Brigades Union London secretary Paul Embery said three of the eight fire stations that sent crews to the incident were set to close on 9 January.

Before and after pictures from the Apollo
Pictures from inside showed the scale of the damage to the theatre
He added: "The Apollo Theatre collapse demonstrates how dependent the safety of Londoners is on the stations that Boris Johnson intends to close.

"These cuts are reckless, wrong and will jeopardise the safety of millions of Londoners. It will only be a matter of time before someone dies as a result of a fire engine failing to reach them in time."

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

It will only be a matter of time before someone dies as a result of a fire engine failing to reach them in time”

Paul Embery
Fire Brigades Union
On Friday, seven London councils lost their High Court battle over Mr Johnson's proposal to shut 10 fire stations in the capital.

More than 500 firefighters' jobs will be lost under the plans, which have been approved by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA).

'Isolated incident'
Tower Hamlets, Camden, Greenwich, Hackney, Islington, Lewisham and Southwark councils were appealing against the cuts, which are expected to save £28.8m.

The Apollo Theatre was packed with 720 people when the ceiling partially collapsed on Thursday evening. Seven of those hurt were said to have serious injuries.

Westminster City Council said the building was safe for its investigators to go in to but it would have to conclude its investigation before it could say whether it was safe to reopen.

Nicola Aiken, the council's cabinet member for community protection, said the theatre's health and safety checks were "up to date".

"Each historic theatre is unique and we have no reason to believe this is other than an isolated incident," she said.

"We have confirmed with the Society of London Theatre that all theatres' safety checks are up to date; however, as a precaution, all historic theatres are carrying out further safety checks."

After the incident, Mr Johnson said the emergency services were "exemplary", and insisted the West End - heart of the capital's Theatreland - remained "open for business".

The office of the Mayor of London was unavailable for comment on this latest matter.



Edit to fix typo.


Last edited by ramonmercado on 22-12-2013 15:03; edited 1 time in total
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gncxxOffline
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PostPosted: 22-12-2013 14:55    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting, Spookdaddy, thanks. I suppose if the collapse had happened at The Phantom of the Opera patrons would have thought it was part of the show.

Shame on Boris, too.
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