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Royal Holloway's multi-million pound theatre project begins

Posted on 19/03/2012
Artwork of the designs for the new Studio Theatre

Builders have moved in to demolish the ageing Studio Theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London to make way for a new multi-million pound project.

The old Studio Theatre was built in 1981 for just £50,000, and has served the Drama and Theatre Department well. The likes of Mark Strong, successful actor of TV and Film – Sherlock Holmes, Body of Lies, RocknRolla, and, BRIT Award winning musician KT Tunstall both graduated learning their trade in the Studio Theatre. Although still in use up to its demolition, it had fallen into a state of rapid structural decline and will now be replaced with a new state-of-the-art theatre.

The new theatre, designed by Foster Wilson Architects, offers an intimate and flexible space for 21st century theatre makers. The curved gallery overlooks a central space which can be configured in many different ways. The new theatre is linked to the Regency elegance of Sutherland House by a glass foyer which welcomes audiences to experience the wide range of performances created by students and visiting companies. 

The newly configured backstage area offers a workshop, design space, accessible dressing rooms and two new rehearsal rooms, which together greatly enhance the working and teaching spaces available to the department.

Dr Gill Bush-Bailey, Director of Theatre Development, said: “It seems quite a while since we sat down with architects Foster Wilson who have worked to realise the vision the department had for a new theatre. Although delays have been frustrating, it has given us time to celebrate with students who have used the old studio so very imaginatively in years past. Now, as the studio disappears before our eyes, we can look forward to realising the fantastic new space in the certain knowledge that students will have an amazing space in which to create new work in the future.”

Head of the Drama and Theatre Department Dan Rebellato said: “The heart of a Drama department is its theatre. Our studio has been our heart for thirty years and it leaves behind us a wealth of memories and a thriving department. I've taught in there, seen countless performances and assessments in there, written two plays for it, directed six shows, and even once did karaoke in there. We're sad to see the old place go, but all those triumphs are nothing to the extraordinary possibilities that will be opened up by our new theatre, opening in 2013”.

Whilst preparations were being made for the demolition of the old theatre, those at Royal Holloway took time to say farewell to the performance space that has served them so well. Staff and students painted its walls with farewell messages and fond memories before, under careful supervision; they took a sledge hammer to one of its walls.

For all of the latest information on the new theatre project, visit the Drama and Theatre Department website.


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