New year-round 200 seat theatre for Edinburgh

May 8, 2013 | By | Reply More

Festival Theatre’s new performance space to open in June

The Studio from Potterrow towards Marshall Street. Photo © Thom Dibdin

The Studio from Potterrow, viewed towards Marshall St. Photo © Thom Dibdin

By Thom Dibdin

Construction work on the Studio, Edinburgh’s new year-round purpose-built theatre space, has been completed and it is on course to open for its first performance in June.

Situated behind the Festival Theatre, with access for technical facilities through into the rear of the main stage, public access to the new building will be on Potterrow.

Duncan Hendry, Chief Executive of Festival and King’s Theatres, said: “When the Empire Palace Theatre was redeveloped in 1994 and reopened as the Festival Theatre, it was always the intention that it would have an extension built to the rear of the building, providing additional performance facilities and a rehearsal studio.

“We’re delighted that this idea has finally become a reality and the new building is now complete – just before our 20th anniversary celebrations in 2014.”

The Festival Theatre got the keys to the £3 million building at the end of April. When the interior fit-out of the building is complete, it will be used as rehearsal space for visiting companies and as a stand-alone 200 seat theatre.

Underbelly is branding the venue as Topside during the fringe
Interior of the unfinished main space of The Studio early 2013. Photo credit Festival And King's Theatres

Interior of the unfinished main space of The Studio early 2013. Photo credit Festival And King’s Theatres

An initial test performance of children’s show The Man Who Planted Trees has been set for 19 June to demonstrate how the venue could be used in the future. The Studio will be hired out during the fringe, initially to Underbelly which is branding the venue as Topside. A hard launch of the venue is expected in early September.

Luminate, the new creative ageing festival, will be staging activities in the Studio in October. Wee Stories, which is the Festival and King’s resident children’s theatre company, will be staging its Christmas show Spring & The Selfish Giant in the venue in December.

Hendry added: It will be a valuable addition to the city’s cultural spaces – a contemporary, flexible space that will transform our activities in learning and participation – and provide an important resource for professional companies, local amateur groups, schools and societies.”

The unfinished main space of The Studio looking across Potterrow to the Student Union. Photo credit Festival And King's Theatres

The unfinished main space of The Studio looking across Potterrow to the Student Union. Photo credit Festival And King’s Theatres

Fiona McCurdy, Underbelly’s head of programming, spoke of the added opportunities given to the fringe promoter by taking over the Studio, particulary the venue’s potential for staging theatre.

“We have been running theatre for 12 years now and it is at the heart of what Underbelly was set up to do,” she said. “The amazing Cowgate spaces  are beautiful and atmospheric but, like every temporary venue, they have their drawbacks in terms of stage size.

“There is only so much we can do. Every year we have to turn down shows that are amazing so it is really exciting to have a venue this year which has the stage size and the technical capacity to take bigger shows.”

ENDS

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