Stage is set for exciting new era at Great Yarmouth theatre
An historic theatre in the heart of a seaside town is looking to expand its repertoire and community connections – with some help from a coastal “cousin.”
St George’s at Great Yarmouth is the resort’s only year-round theatre – providing a mix of drama, cinema and music in a converted church.
But it is aiming to widen its programme and appeal through an 18-month audience development plan, with help from Sheringham Little Theatre director Debbie Thompson.
In her role as part-time creative director at St George’s Mrs Thompson will broaden the range of events to show arts lovers across east Norfolk the hidden gem that sits under a landmark town centre clock tower.
She said: “We plan to embed St George’s in the community so it becomes part of the cultural landscape and make it a thriving venue that is embraced by local people and visitors alike.”
It is hoped to widen the appeal to families, collaborate with other regional theatres, seek to attract older people, youngsters and raise its profile by hosting events at its modern café bar overlooking a performance plaza.
Chairman of the St George’s trustees Barry Coleman added: “We are really excited about getting Debbie’s input. She has the local knowledge and expertise having done this work at another coastal community theatre.”
Mrs Thompson will carry out the St George’s role two days a week, but continues as director at the 180-seater Sheringham Little Theatre. She has been at Sheringham for 15 years, during which time the venue has built up successful pantomime and summer drama seasons, as well as a range of stage, screen and music offerings – which saw it win a People’s Choice accolade in the EDP Norfolk Arts Awards last year.
St George’s, which can hold more than 240 people in its stunning building, already has a busy programme of events including touring shows, tribute bands, singalong films, drama, schools and community functions. It is home to a FABBA drama group for adults with disabilities and has a new Arts Academy teaching theatre and drama skills to 7 to 16 year olds.
But research and goals from the development plan highlight more potential including through joint working with other venues said Business of Culture expert Graeme Jennings who drew it up.
St George’s Factfile
The church, built in 1714, is a Grade 1 listed building
Its design mirrors Sir Christopher Wren’s St Clement Danes in London and is regarded as one of best examples of Baroque church architecture outside the capital
It fell into disrepair after it was no longer needed as a church in 1959
St Georges was rescued in 1972 by local enthusiasts as a venue for arts and theatre.
Structural defects resulted in closure in 2006 but it was again revived in a £7.5m scheme coincided with a regeneration of the St George’s Plain and King Street area.
It is run by the St Georges Art Centre Trust, using a small staff and army of 35 volunteers.
The venue is keen to recruit more helpers, sponsors and supporter Friends to carry out its work.
Contact www.stgeorgestheatre.com or 01493 331484