Support Morecambe Winter Gardens by taking a tour!

Here’s a great opportunity for all of you who, maybe like me, are feeling a little cooped up waiting for this blasted pandemic to ebb. So here’s a great opportunity to go exploring one of the UK’s most historic theatres – without leaving your sofa.

Morecambe Winter Gardens have recorded a comprehensive and very interesting guided tour of this listed but still at risk building.

For just £5, you can sign up to be a Friend of the MWG for a year, and as a special perk you’ll get the guided tour thrown in! It’s well worth the tiny price.

TO ACCESS THE TOUR, visit the theatre’s website here and click on the heading Virtual Tour Join on the top right of the screen

And if you’d like a taster to whet your appetite, here’s a short trailer

For more information about the Morecambe Winter Gardens and its “at risk” status, visit the Theatres Trust website here

Explore the extraordinary world of Atmospheric Theatres in special online event

The Orpheum Theater, Phoenix, Arizona. Photo courtesy Historic Theatre Photography

There’s a rare treat in store for anyone interested in theatres, movie palaces, grand design and architecture of the 1920s and 30s, when the Cinema Theatre Association presents a live collaboration with the renowned Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation on Saturday April 3rd at 5.30pm UK time (9.30am US Pacific Time)

The CTA and LAHTF invites you to go around the world with them on a magical journey to Spanish gardens, French palaces , Moorish promenades, Italian courtyards, Aztec temples and many more. All of them inside your neighbourhood theatre!

Dubbed the “atmospheric” style of theatre and movie palace, it was created and developed by one architect, John Eberson, in America in the 1920s. The idea behind the atmospherics was that most Americans being unable to travel outside their own country, other countries could be brought to them by their appearance being recreated inside a theatre auditorium.

That was the inspiration for these fascinating and intriguing recreations of outdoor spaces, where the skies are forever blue and the stars always twinkle on right on cue.

Come and enjoy seeing dozens of these unique survivors from around the world in a one-hour presentation from the comfort of your own home.

Watch the 90-second Trailer for this exciting show below

Tickets are just £4 per device and can be bought here

Theatres Trust helps 75 venues with Theatre Reopening Fund

The Theatres Trust has released details of the last group of theatres to benefit from its Theatre Reopening Fund.

The Theatre Reopening Fund was launched in June 2020 in response to the pandemic. Through this scheme, Theatres Trust has now supported 75 theatres all across the UK, with grants totalling £301,873.

The money is given specifically to help theatres with costs of Covid-secure reopening, and recipients range from the mid-sized to very small venues.

Grants of up to £5,000 per theatre have funded projects including changes to building layouts to reduce congestion, improvements to ventilation systems and more straightforward measures like installing hand sanitisers, signage and screens.

Funders who made these grants possible include the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Charles Michael Holloway Charitable Trust, Judy Craymer CBE, Soho Estates, The Basil Samuel Charitable Trust, The Foyle Foundation, The Mackintosh Foundation, The Pilgrim Trust, The Swire Charitable Trust, Theatre Royal, Haymarket and Theatre Super Auction

You can find more details, including the beneficiary theatres, at the Theatres Trust website here

Bring back the Solotoria!

With the pandemic curtailing most theatre as we have previously experienced it, producers and entrepreneurs have been spurred into creative overdrive in considering new and unusual forms of theatre spaces.

Brilliant independent producer Katy Lipson is part of a consortium engaged in design and construction of Vertical Theatre, a space for a variety of theatre forms in an in-the-round configuration with a majority of the audience seated in vertically tiered boxes. This space is designed to be portable so that it can be constructed, run and then struck and toured around the country, rather in the way we are used to seeing circuses sweep across the country’s parks and green spaces. Its an interesting idea.

Then there is the group who are planning drive-in theatre at one of the big London exhibition centres. Not sure how this one will rate, especially with all those emisssions (from the cars!).

In all of this creative flurry, one recent innovation sprang to mind whose time has perhaps finally come.

Of what do I speak, dear reader?

The Solotoria, of course!

What do you mean you’ve never heard of it!

As described on its website, Solotoria is ” a spectacular theatrical experience……one person at a time.”

Created by LIPA graduates Ashley Shairp and Sam Heath, Solotoria offers one person a 3-minute show in the plush surroundings that we have all missed this last year.

Audients can choose from attending the “Mini Blackpool Grand Theatre” for a comedy or a magic show. Those with higher-brow tastes can attend the “Mini Royal Opera House, Covent Garden” for a programme of either ballet or opera.

As the website describes, “the individual (solo) audience member wears a pair of headphones and places their head inside the space – the experience is immersive: each show has its own soundscape, the auditorium lights dim and the show begins…

The Solotoria toured the UK in 2014/5 to great interest and public acclaim for its ingenuity and care in its detailing of both auditoria models, as well as the mini-shows themselves.

You can watch a video of audients at a Mini Royal Opera House preview show here

And you can view the Solotoria at their website here

And here, at last, is the view of the Solotoria’s Mini Royal Opera House. Just for you!

(With thanks to Dr Maria Barrett for reminding me of this item)

Fascinating evolution of London’s West End explored in online talk – now available to watch

On the evening of Monday March 1st, the Streatham Society hosted a very interesting online talk by Professor Rohan McWilliams entitled “London’s West End: Creating the Pleasure District, 1800-1914” 

Detailing the evolution of the area as a shopping and entertainment destination, there were a number of fascinating changes which the area went through in the nineteenth century to become an early version of what we still recognise today as the West End.

I was surprised to hear that one of the most important developments were the provision of ladies’ lavatories. Something that the West End theatres could certainly still do with a lot more of, over a century later!

We also learned where the colonnades which originally lined Regent Street were removed to – and why they had to be removed in the first place!

Fascinating glimpses of an evolution which embraced panoramas, music halls, and so much more, this was an enlightening way to spend an hour.

You can enjoy a recording of the talk which is now available here  

Thanks to the Streatham Society for yet another interesting talk.