2003: Water Stages
In 2003, for the first time since the 1960s, all productions were performed by one company of actors under a new triumvirate of Artistic Directors: Steven Pimlott, Martin Duncan and Ruth Mackenzie - the first woman to have the role. Famously, the stage was rebuilt to accommodate 9800 litres of water for a 'Venice' themed season which included The Gondoliers, The Merchant of Venice and The Water Babies. Only one subsequent production has made use of a flooded stage: Way Upstream (2015), after CFT's major RENEW refurbishment, which featured a full size working motorboat and a forest of real trees.
We removed the side seats and created a false proscenium arch, then went as wide as we could with the stage, tanked it and flooded the whole area. A false stage was put on top of this which took the forms of a swimming pool and the canals of Venice. The only show that did not make use of the water was, ironically, The Water Babies.
Head of Stage Karl Meier remembers the 2003 season