Opening May 2017 after a decade long absence of a city centre cinema and theatre, Storyhouse is the UK’s largest regional arts project under construction. It will open with a run of four home-produced shows, performed in rep, by a company of 26 of the country’s finest actors.
The theatre will open with a riotous new musical based on The Beggar’s Opera, the premiere of playwright Glyn Maxwell’s joyful new adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, Shakespeare’s brutal political thriller Julius Caesar and comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. All of the productions will premiere on the 500-seat wrap-around “Storyhouse Stage” – one of two formats for the main theatre.
The entire run, from 11th May – 27th August, presents one of the UK’s most ambitious theatre seasons. The four shows are spread right across the summer and, uniquely, audiences will be able to choose between seeing productions in the new theatre, and in Storyhouse’s award-winning Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre. Alice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Julius Caesar transfer in to Grosvenor park for the height of summer, whilst The Beggar’s Opera continues inside.
Artistic director Alex Clifton said ‘We are so thrilled to be announcing our much anticipated inaugural season. We believe we have four brilliant stories to tell. We open with the down-and-dirty musical The Beggar’s Opera, in a new version for Chester with an original score, rewritten for our time. Alice in Wonderland will be a joyful family show, that meets a little girl on the last afternoon of her childhood, escaping into wonderland. All of the plays in the season tackle big, important questions about our shared cultural identity, and none more obviously than Julius Caesar, a political thriller, perfectly set to take audiences to the rancid heart of power. A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be an on-stage carnival and celebrate the glorious diversity and volatility of human desire’.
Storyhouse has been carved out of the Grade II listed shell of the former Odeon cinema, alongside a new brick and translucent glass extension. The Storyhouse library, restaurant and independent cinema are housed in the former Odeon’s streamlined art-deco interior. The uniquely flexible 800 / 500 seat auditorium, 150-seat community studio and rooftop bar are housed in the remarkable new extension.
Councillor Louise Gittins, Cabinet Member, Communities and Wellbeing for Cheshire West and Chester Council said: “Storyhouse will be a place the borough’s communities can come together and experience the UK’s leading theatre, opera, dance and music companies – it will create opportunities not available before. What better way to start than with Storyhouse locally produced programme. This is the first of many exciting stories.”
Councillor Stuart Parker, Shadow Cabinet Member, Communities and wellbeingadded:
“Storyhouse marks a substantial shift in the region’s growing cultural offer, the wait has definitely been worth it to see the transformation into a venue for us all to feel a part of.”
Designed by Bennetts Associates and funded by Cheshire West and Chester council, Arts Council England and trusts and foundations Storyhouse will be the largest public building ever in Chester. Full of new creative spaces, the theatre will transform from an 800 seat proscenium arch in the autumn and winter presenting national and international touring productions, to a more intimate 500 seat thrust in the spring, summer and Christmas time. Other spaces include a 150 seat studio theatre, open plan foyers, hospitality spaces, and a library that spills across all areas of the operation – including a dedicated children’s library complete with wet play, arts and crafts spaces and a storytelling room. Storyhouse is located in the heart of Cheshire, set alongside the town hall and cathedral – completing a trinity of a cultural, civic and spiritual public spaces.
Tickets for all four productions go on sale Monday 24 October. Visit www.storyhouse.com to find out more and book.