B.C. Theatre Stage Features First in Canada Flooring

By Clare Tattersall

The Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre (VDPAC) has a brand-new, state-of-the-art stage floor — the first of its kind to be installed in Canada.

Harlequin’s RockSure surface is now centre stage in the theatre, thanks to the financial support of the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO).

“We are a busy theatre with many quick turnarounds,” says VDPAC executive director Jim Harding. “Our stage must accommodate everything from dance to theatre, comedy to concerts, to the acrobatic Cirque shows, so being a vented floor, durable and with minimal maintenance is critical to meeting our quick changeover scheduling demands.”

VDPAC proposed RockSure flooring to RDNO for its permanency, load-bearing capacity and resistance to water, tape, fire, expansion and shrinkage. The floor is extremely hard wearing, does not require painting and is overall low-maintenance. Its abrasion resistance makes it suitable to support Genie and scissor lifts, castors and the movement of props.

RockSure is a heavy-duty polymer composite product that was only recently added to Harlequin’s lineup of performance space flooring in North America, and used for the first time in the U.S. in June 2022. It’s manufactured in four-foot by eight-foot panels to be squared, pre-drilled and counter-sunk, and can be worked with standard woodworking tools. Additionally, it is secured to the floor in sections and can be unscrewed for access or replacement of heavily worn areas.

“Our customers come to Harlequin looking not only for dance floors but also flooring solutions for tougher environments like stages,” says Pat Basileo, COO of American Harlequin. “When a traditional stage surface, a heavy-duty vinyl or hardwood don’t meet the requirements, a product like RockSure is a good alternative with a matte black surface that doesn’t require painting.”

Harlequin RockSure is a polymer composite stage surface installed at Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre.

Replacement of the stage floor surface became increasingly evident as the hardboard layer, installed in February 2023 as part of a full stage reconstruction, became progressively damaged by normal performance use over the spring.

Harlequin’s own team transformed VDPAC’s main stage this past January, installing the RockSure surface over the previously replaced subfloor, making the flooring system a hybrid design specifically for the needs of the performing arts centre.

RDNO allocated $150,000 for the new RockSure flooring, including the costs of the damaged hardboard tear-out and installation of new perimeter air boards for venting.

The trade-marked stage flooring will be more cost-effective over the long-term for VDPAC operating costs.

“I expect the new floor will reduce annual stage paint costs by $5,000 to $6,000 alone, with additional crew and stage maintenance savings,” says VDPAC’s Harding.

This is the second time the performing arts centre has had to replace its stage floor in less than a year.

In December 2022, the facility was flooded after below seasonal temperatures went to -37 C, triggering VDPAC’s deluge fire suppression system. The water damaged VDPAC’s main stage, sub-stage and loading bay areas, main curtain, lighting and audio equipment, and deposited two feet of treated water in the theatre’s orchestra pit. The deluge system flooding required stripping out the original stage and subfloors down to the bare concrete for complete replacement of the stage.

Theatrical productions resumed in March of last year, one month after the floor was replaced (not by Harlequin). However, by summer 2023, the new floor’s hardboard surface was deemed unsafe for live performances.

Total costs of flooding-related RDNO and VDPAC insurance claims, including equipment replacement, reimbursements, stage reconstruction and materials is still being finalized a year later.

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