- Date: 1 October 2013
- Area: South West
Theatre Royal Plymouth. Credit: Photo courtesy of Theatre Royal Plymouth
An Arts Council England National portfolio organisation and regional theatre opens its doors again following a major renovation project, thanks to a £5 million Arts Council England's National Lottery funded Capital award.
Theatre Royal Plymouth celebrated the completion of its Regeneration Project with the opening night of the National Theatre's first UK tour of their award-winning production War Horse on Friday 27 September.
The theatre was shut for six months this year while work was being carried out.
The theatre's £7 million Regeneration Project aims to improve the accessibility of the theatre as well as enhance the surrounding public areas.
Construction work included re-cladding the building, extending the building front, creating a new Box Office, shop and cafe area, and creating an outdoor terrace area and extended restaurant. A new studio space (The Lab) was also built in the theatre's basement to house work with young people and community groups.
Arts Council England awarded a £5 million grant to the project in 2012. Since then, the theatre has embarked on a major fundraising campaign to raise the remaining £2 million. The project was also supported by a partnership with Plymouth City Council.
Theatre Royal Plymouth is one of the largest and best attended regional producing theatre in the UK. Built in 1813, the theatre has seen a complete rebuild in the 1980s and the construction of theatre production and education centre TR2 in 2003 as well as the latest Regeneration Project.
Theatre Royal Plymouth contributes an estimated £26 million to the local economy every year. Last year the theatre reported £10 million annual income, 356,000 ticket sales and 60 percent of its visitors coming from outside Plymouth.
The theatre has recently been nominated for the 'Promotion of Diversity Award' in this year's UK Theatre Awards for their work around diversity in programming and their creative learning programme, which reaches 8,000 people yearly. The winners will be announced on Sunday 20 October at London's Guildhall.
Contractors BAM Contract started work on the theatre in mid-February, still allowing the theatre to run a full programme. The theatre shut completely in early April so that the rest of the work could be carried out. As part of the public realm improvements to the theatre, a new split level public space will be created with one of Plymouth's best loved landmarks, Derry's Clock, as its focus.
The opening production War Horse is based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo and tells the story of Albert and his beloved horse Joey. The National Theatre production was adapted by Nick Stafford in association with Handspring Puppet company. At the heart of the show are life-sized puppets that bring breathing, galloping, charging horses to thrilling life on stage.
Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England says, 'Congratulations to the whole Theatre Royal Plymouth team on completing this exciting refurbishment. We're pleased to see our National Lottery funded Capital award supporting a vital hub for arts and culture in the Area, and we hope that even more audiences locally and from afar have a chance to visit your newly opened building.'
National Theatre's War Horse is on at Theatre Royal Plymouth now until 12 October. For more information, see www.theatreroyal.com