York is set to see a tremendous transformation of its beloved Theatre Royal. Having been awarded £2.85 million from Arts Council England, £1/2 million from York City Council, and other contributions from organisations such as the Joseph Roundtree Foundation, the theatre is well on the way to the £4.1 million needed for the redevelopment project.
The redevelopment will include: flattening the angled stage for safer performances; building further stage traps to enable innovative stage use; restructuring of the stalls to improve vision for younger audience members; a new orchestra pit; and a spacious foyer that is easier to navigate and includes a lift. Damian Cruden, Artistic Director, said the theatre aims to be “stable, resilient, accessible” and the redevelopment will help it to be so.
The new design for the front of the theatre. ©York Theatre Royal
York is known for its history and the theatre is by no means absent from that history so during the redevelopment the theatre and its grounds will be explored by archaeologists and the findings will be incorporated into the new design.
The theatre will close next March for eight months and will reopen for panto season in December of 2015. In the intervening months theatrical activity will move to the National Railway Museum where a bespoke 1,000 seat theatre will be built; workshops and the Youth Theatre are expecting to continue as normal with little interruption.
Excitingly for students of the University of York, the university will be involved in forthcoming theatre events, namely the launch of the UK’s first international Shakespeare festival. Judith Buchanan will be a fundamental part of the festival’s beginnings of which we will undoubtedly hear more soon.