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York Theatre Royal Building

Arts Development in northern England refurbishment design by De Matos Ryan architects, UK

17 Feb 2016

York Theatre Royal Building Redevelopment

York Theatre Royal to reopen on 22 April following a £6million redevelopment by architects De Matos Ryan

Design: De Matos Ryan

The theatre will launch with two world premiere co-productions; Evelyn Waugh’s
Brideshead Revisited and E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops

Press Preview: Wednesday 13 April
Press Night, Brideshead Revisited: Tuesday 26 April

York Theatre Royal Exterior After Redevelopment:
York Theatre Royal Building
Artists’ Impression : De Matos Ryan

York Theatre Royal, founded in 1744 and one of the UK’s oldest producing theatres, reopens its doors on Friday 22 April 2016 following a £6 million redevelopment. The project by architects De Matos Ryan has transformed the 270 year old theatre into a building fit to serve a 21st century audience with improved access and flexibility. The project has been funded by Arts Council England, City of York Council and York Conservation Trust with generous grants and donations from local and national trusts and foundations, corporate and individual supporters. A further £153,000 has been raised through a public fundraising campaign.

The Redevelopment

The first significant change to the building since Patrick Gwynne’s ground-breaking poured concrete and glass extension was added to the Victorian theatre in 1967, this redevelopment has improved access throughout the building, added a spacious open plan foyer and doubled the café area. The gothic colonnade, once exposed to the elements, has been enclosed by glass, creating a warm and inviting entrance.

The extended foyer has been reimagined to reflect the ways the community and wider audience engage with the space. New seating areas have been incorporated into the layout with a new café and bistro offering freshly-made deli snacks and main meals with ingredients from the best of local Yorkshire suppliers. Polished terrazzo flooring in grey and white will reflect the outlines of the mediaeval foundations remaining below, bringing the history of the building into the modern space.

The main stage will be reconstructed in a modular form, allowing the stage to be adapted or removed entirely, offering a flexibility that is rarely seen in such an historic theatre. The new layout will enable traps and level changes to be provided with ease adding to the versatility of productions and making the theatre more suitable for touring productions and dance companies. Sightlines will dramatically improve with a new rake to the Stalls enhancing the intimacy of the auditorium and the Dress Circle and Gallery will receive new seating and raking to maximise capacity and improve comfort and sightlines.

Photographs below by Jim Poyner

Exterior – Before:
York Theatre Royal Building

Colonnade – Before:
York Theatre Royal Building

Auditorium – Before:
York Theatre Royal Building

The Archaeology

York Theatre Royal lies on the site of St Leonard’s Hospital, one of the largest and most important hospitals of mediaeval England. Throughout the theatre’s renovation a team of archaeologists from York Archaeological Trust spent several weeks carrying out excavations under the stage before ground works by the main contractor, William Birch and Son, took place in the auditorium. The team uncovered limestone foundations of the north wall of one of the 12th century hospital buildings and a number of the plinths and pillar bases for the rib-vaulted ground floor.

The dig also found the remains of a post-mediaeval cobbled street, made up of stones from St. Leonard’s Hospital, evidence of supporting columns from the hospital and a mediaeval well. An arched entranceway, situated in the back wall of the theatre has at various points been considered as both a section of the York Minster yard walls and part of the entrance to the Royal Mint in York. It has proved to be an unusual and rare 18th century folly which would have once formed part of a gateway to the gardens adjacent to the theatre that were swallowed up during 19th century expansion works.

Images below by De Matos Ryan:

Box Office – After:
York Theatre Royal Building

Auditorium – After:
York Theatre Royal Building

Final Seating Plan with new raked seating and titles:
York Theatre Royal Building

Colonnade – After:
York Theatre Royal Building

The Spring 2016 Season

The spring season will see a new programme of events and activities to bring the community and audiences even closer to the work of the theatre. 270/360 will celebrate 270 years of York Theatre Royal with a 360-degree view of the theatre’s activities including talks, discussions, open rehearsals and meet-the-cast events. There will even be the opportunity to see productions from a completely different angle with A View from Backstage, where tickets will be available to watch from either the wings or the fly floor.

The theatre reopens with two world premiere York Theatre Royal co-productions and continues its commitment to
innovative producing, the nurturing of new talent and providing activities for the whole community.

 A stunning new reimagining of Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel Brideshead Revisited in conjunction with English
Touring Theatre will run from Friday 22 – Saturday 30 April, before embarking on a UK tour.

 An eerily prophetic adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic short story The Machine Stops will celebrate the
theatre’s longstanding partnership with Pilot Theatre and run from Friday 13 May – Saturday 4 June.

 York Theatre Royal’s annual summer production cements its reputation of giving classic stories an inventive
new twist. Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles, directed by Damian Cruden, will be a funpacked
family show which turns horror into howling comedy from Friday 29 July – Saturday 27 August.

 Critically acclaimed touring companies return including Northern Broadsides, Birmingham Royal Ballet and
English Touring Opera.

 Younger members of the family will be able to enjoy the return of Little Feet festival of Children’s theatre in June and resident company tutti frutti will present a new production WiLd!

For full listings of the opening season please visit yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Liz Wilson, Chief Executive of York Theatre Royal
photo : Anthony Robling

Liz Wilson, Chief Executive at York Theatre Royal (above) commented: ‘York Theatre Royal contributes to the world class cultural offer in the city through ambitious theatre productions, support for innovative artists and companies and promoting a culture of achievement with a community of collaborators, whether artist or citizen. The redevelopment supports our work in all its glorious diversity and brings the flexibility essential to a truly sustainable organisation that will continue to grow and evolve.’

Damian Cruden, Artistic Director of York Theatre Royal
photo : Robert Day

Damian Cruden, Artistic Director at York Theatre Royal (above) said: ‘As the building nears completion it becomes ever more evident just how desperately needed the work has been. Our original desire to create a theatre space which gave our audience a far better experience whilst experiencing a show has over time grown to include the entire building. We can appreciate now just how wonderful this is going to be.

So for all our community we will be able to offer a building fit for the 21st century and beyond. Not only do we have all this but we also have a new roof over our heads which has been afforded by our new landlords the York Conservation Trust, who truly understand the importance of culture in our community and are prepared to invest in it.’

Photographs below by Jim Poyner

Cloakroom & Exhibition Corridor – Before:
York Theatre Royal Building

Box Office & Colonnade – Before:
York Theatre Royal Building

Exhibition Corridor – Before:
York Theatre Royal Building

Chief Executive of York Conservation Trust, Philip Thake commented: ‘York Conservation Trust are immensely proud to be the new owners of this magnificent building which has a rich and varied past. Our charter is to protect York’s most historic properties and it was clear to us that substantial investment was required to secure this important building’s future and preserve it for the benefit of the people of York and the nation at large. In this time of austerity and lack of funds in local government, it seemed appropriate for us to step in and purchase the property. We will now guarantee its future and have long-term plans for even more improvements to other parts of the property which will further enhance the theatre’s offering to the local community.’

Angus Morrogh-Ryan, Project Director at De Matos Ryan said: ‘York Theatre Royal is already highly creative and
commercial. They consistently make inspiring and imaginative events happen in York, which are highly regarded
regionally and nationally. This project’s role is to unlock even more if its potential, opening the doors to a wider
community, so that they can build the next phase of their future with a sense of resilience and sustainability.’

York Theatre Royal Building images / information received 170216

de Matos Storey Ryan Architects

Address: York Theatre Royal, St Leonard’s Place, York, YO1 7HD
Box Office: 01904 623568
Reception: 01904 658162

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Location: York Theatre Royal, St Leonard’s Place, York, YO1 7HD, North Yorkshire, England, UK

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