If we were to ask you to name the single most contentious patron issue that has endured over the past two decades at OHP, what would you say in reply?
Opera style or choice?
For all of the above you would be wrong. The answer is ‘toilets’. We have probably spent as much time answering questions on this matter as we have on anything else. But now, I am happy to say that we think we have dealt with the matter – or at least made enormous improvements, because I doubt that for the British, we could ever have a perfect solution!
Our current toilet provision is, as you will undoubtedly know, provided by quite high spec trailer units placed at the front of the theatre. There are several reasons why this has never been ideal; a) they are outside the theatre and perceptually this is awkward because you need ‘leave’ the theatre to use them b) they are ‘chemical’ toilets and not directly connected to sewers. I need say no more c) they are not the most attractive things to have adorning the front of the theatre. They also require emptying which means lots of truck visits and this is not conducive to the park as a whole.
However, in 2017, we have managed to find a solution that puts to rest most of these issues. We have invested in a system of temporary toilets that are housed in a marquee, are very high specification and which are directly linked to sewers. They essentially work like airline toilets and provide enormous flexibility. We will also have several more stalls in the ladies side than we currently have.
The other major change is their location. They are within the theatre boundary, to the east of the auditorium (to the right as you look at the stage and are only accessible to theatre patrons as opposed to other members of the public in the park). To access them you walk through the tunnel underneath the seating stand or through the foyer bar. They are essentially behind the Oak Room. The toilets also have a disabled unit and this is fully accessible too.
In all these are an exponential improvement on what we currently have and we are pleased that finally, we have been able to introduce a solution that helps improve the experience of attending OHP that bit more pleasant and convenient (pun intended). There will no doubt be teething issues with regard to how people queue (if that is even necessary), the internal layout of the toilet building (this system offers great flexibility) and of course getting everybody to realise the loos are in a new place. Please bear with us and we will get it right. We have no doubt, however, that this is a significant solution to an age-old problem!
– Michael Volpe, General Director