In 1962 Chesil Theatre became home to the Winchester Dramatic Society which took on responsibility for the good guardianship of this Listed Building and former church. Since that time the Theatre’s activities have expanded with additional productions, two youth theatre groups, visiting small-scale professional shows, hirings and a unique national playwriting competition which was visited recently by Sir Ian McKellen.
The proposed annexe gives the essential extra space required with a new, light-filled foyer/rehearsal area, accessible toilet facilities, additional dressing rooms, studio/community room and storage space.
Chesil Theatre Chairman Martin Humphrey said:
“At present we are desperately short of space. Our youth theatre has to locate elsewhere and we’ve needed to store essential items in a remote container. The annexe development will not only enable us to meet our current needs, including legal requirements, but will also let us expand our day-time theatre-related activities, particularly for the active elderly. We’ll welcome all those interested in the scheme to our open meeting on 8th September when we can take feedback on board.”
Chesil Theatre is well-served professionally having instructed a conservation architect and expert in ecclesiastical buildings. The project is overseen by long-term Chesil Theatre member and retired architect Peter Liddiard, who as a director, actor, set designer and front of house manager knows exactly how the building needs to function. Advice has also been sought from Theatres Trust, the national consultative body. In addition to the open meeting, arrangements are being made for a further exhibition later in the month when it is hoped proposals will be included for Chesil Street by the charity St John’s Winchester, whose plans are being considered in parallel.
Heritage Open Days are on 9th and 10th September between 10am and 4pm. Displays will include superb items made by the wardrobe section and from local group Art Talk which created designs for the production After Electra earlier this year. Refreshments will also be available.
Chesil Theatre’s season-opening show is Noel Coward’s classic comedy Blithe Spirit which runs from 16th to 23rd September 2017. This is followed by a visiting production of The Railway Plays by Nicholas Joseph on 29th and 30th September 2017. Tickets are available from www.chesiltheatre.org.uk.