The Sage, Gateshead - Bespoke Theatre Handling Systems

The dramatic shell-like roof of The Sage, Gateshead, houses three performance theatres, each with its own unique design. The individual designs create different acoustic effects, required by different musical performance styles. For example, opera singers and orchestras will require the shape of the auditoria to achieve considerable amplification for their performance, whereas this increase in volume will distort any performances utilising electronic amplification.

To appropriately align the acoustic performance of each theatre with the precise requirements of different musical styles, a certain level of versatility is required in the theatre designs.  SCX Special Projects provided The Sage with a mechanical engineering package for all the theatre’s lifting equipment, lighting bars and stage risers, and mobilised the acoustic panels and curtains to facilitate these required variations.

Inside view of the sage theatre  with all lighting equipment on show

In Hall One, winching systems individually position six 14tonne acoustic ceiling panels at precise heights between 10m and 21m to achieve the required acoustic effects.

Six lighting bars, installed between the panels can be lowered to stall level for the rigging and alteration of lights, and three hoists lower speakers down through trapdoors in one of the panels.

Winching systems for precise positioning of acoustic panels in Hall One of the Sage theatre

Eighteen chain hoists handle additional set equipment such as curtains or projection screens for conferences, and four high speed point hoists, controlled from the stage flying console, are used during performances for changing backdrops etc.

The Sage theatre lifting equipment

The theatre’s platform risers are motorised to create either a raked stage effect, a variety of different levelled arrangements for various orchestra configurations or a completely flat floor when stored away to the rear of the platform.

Seating in the Sage theatre

In Hall Two, sound absorbing acoustic banners lower from the ceiling down to stalls level and into the space behind the balconies, and hand-wind winches lower lighting and speaker bars.

The acoustic drapes in Hall One are motorised so that they can be deployed by the conductor, to cover anything up to 90% of the wall area, or retracted into storage pockets concealed within the fabric of the building, dependant on requirements.  This effect was mirrored in the smaller Northern Rock Foundation Hall, to create the same acoustic effects as Hall One during the Northern Sinfonia Orchestra’s rehearsals.

Sound absorbing acoustic drapes in the Sage theatre


SCX Special Projects Ltd
Roman Ridge Road,
Sheffield, S9 1GA
Tel: +44 (0)114 262 6199