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Connections between Old and New

Posted on: 29th July, 2016

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful Tara Arts Theatre in Earlsfield, London. It was the latest meeting of the Black Theatre Live consortium, 9 different theatres from across the UK came together to discuss how the project is currently running and to share ideas for the upcoming tour of Hamlet.

The fabulous entrance doors to the Tara Arts Auditorium.


The outreach work of Theatre Royal was highlighted as being one of the most engaging throughout the consortium. We focussed on our work with the local YMCA and Refuge centre. Both were involved in creation of new pieces of artwork. The YMCA devolved an art installation which was displayed at the theatre and the Refuge centre took part in writing workshops and then saw their work performed in a special private viewing. One of the highlights of the day was getting to speak with director Jeffery Kissoon and adaptor Mark Norfolk. They have some fantastic stuff planned for the show, Mark Norfolk has adapted Shakespeare’s text and turned it into a fast paced 2 hour 15 minute version of the script. The two dramaturg’s also got everyone involved in a meditation session and attempted to teach us all some of the physical movements exercises they will using in the production. I won’t say how successfully I managed to recreate their movements, but I didn’t pull any muscles!

Inside the Tara Arts Auditorium.

The Tara Arts Theatre is one of the newest in the UK and we were treated to a tour of this wonderful building. The artistic director is originally from India so this new build theatre has some beautiful Indian touches, including its authentic Indian doors and rather unusually an earth stage. His theory is that the first theatres would have been created outside on a stage of earth with a tree for shade. To this extent the design also encompasses the figure of a tree climbing the side the new theatre. What I personally found lovely is the design connections between our Regency Theatre, one of the oldest in the country and Tara Theatre, one of the newest. Our brown floor is painted to be reminiscent of earth and as I’ve mentioned before the clouds and blue sky of the auditorium represents open air amphitheatres from Greece. It’s fascinating to think that the origins of theatre were inspiring design in 1819 and continuing to inspire in 2016.

Ben Willmott, Press & Communications Officer

This article originally appeared in The Bury Mercury Newspaper

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