Episode 2: How to open a closed theatre

11 May 2021

How do you reopen a closed theatre?  How much money and effort does it really take and what sort of experience do you need to re-open a dark theatre?  What does a closed theatre look like and smell like? Who looks after closed theatres and how do they get a second chance to open their doors again?

In this podcast episode Sue Lawther-Brown from the New Wolsey Theatre unwraps what it really takes to re-open a closed theatre. As theatres prepare to re-open after being forced to close by the Covid—19 pandemic, Sue talks to the people that have brought theatres back to life not once, but several times before.

Sue’s first guests are Sarah Holmes (CEO) and Pete Rowe (Artistic Director) of the New Wolsey Theatre who reopened the theatre in 2001 after a period of closure. Listen to Sarah and Pete talk about the challenges and fun they had in reviving the New Wolsey Theatre as well as their more recent challenges with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sue’s second guest is affectionately named ‘Mr P’ – David Phillips is a production manager at the New Wolsey Theatre. David talks about how returning to a closed theatre is both challenging and exhilarating, and he talks about how different it will be for theatres bringing back freelancers after their long absence following the pandemic. David also talks about what lengths a production manager will go to, not only because of the scrupulous levels of health and safety that he adheres to, but also how to get a show started on time, including chasing a pony round a park just to get him on stage with minutes to spare!

Tom Stickland of Theatres Trust is Sue’s third guest who talks about reopening theatres and the preservation of theatre at a national level. Tom reveals the nature of Theatres Trust’s work and how it protects the future of live performances by protecting theatre buildings and the communities that thrive around them.

Theatre Unwrapped would like to thank all its guests for their fascinating contributions.

If you would like Sue to unwrap a theatre story for you, or you have feedback about this or any other episode of Theatre Unwrapped drop her a line at podcast@wolseytheatre.co.uk.

The New Wolsey Theatre is supported by Arts Council England, Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council.

Host: Sue Lawther-Brown from the New Wolsey Theatre

Guest 1:  Sarah Holmes, CEO of the New Wolsey Theatre

Guest 2: Peter Rowe, Artistic Director of the New Wolsey Theatre

Guest 3: David Phillips ( AKA ‘Mr.P’) from the New Wolsey Theatre

Guest 4: Tom Stickland, Theatres Advisor at Theatres Trust


Download the transcript for this episode here.