What were your thoughts about the theatre?

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Straz
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What were your thoughts about the theatre?

Post by Straz »

In a recent thread - about John Mason, Visitor 2035 and the Cain! production of 1976 - it was interesting to read people's memories of the (then) newly built theatre.
I attended drama lessons and the occasional production in the theatre's first year or so, but I left in July 1975, so I don't recall that much about it.
I'm interested to hear people's thoughts on how the theatre shaped up in the ensuing years...
I do remember from my time at CH that the theatre's seats weren't very comfortable, and the build quality of some of the interior fittings seemed poor.
Much was made of the theatre's flexibility - the seating tiers could be reconfigured and the scenery towers, etc could move - allowing theatre in the round and so on.
Was that flexibility often put to good use and did the seating ever improve?
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Re: What were your thoughts about the theatre?

Post by Great Plum »

The seating was awful when I was first at the school in the early 90s - it was replaced with much more comfortable seating in around 96 I think.

The ‘moveable’ galleries at the back of the stage were fixed down due to health and safety but they have sorted them out now so they move pneumatically I think...

I think the theatre is currently being refurbished again.
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Re: What were your thoughts about the theatre?

Post by Straz »

Thanks for the update Matt.
I remember all the upheaval that went into the theatre's construction in the early 1970s. Once it was finished, I thought that potentially it was a brilliant building, but badly let down by the seating, so good to hear that this was improved, and that a refurb is ongoing.
In another post, we've heard about Cain! and its pros and cons.
What were the best productions that people saw at the theatre over the ensuing years, and what made them so memorable?
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Re: What were your thoughts about the theatre?

Post by Chrissie Boy »

I must admit I absolutely loved the place. I used to do stage crewing there and front of house too, which meant that I saw many, many performances for free and the standard of touring productions etc. was high, not least because there weren't all that many arts centres around in those days, let alone arts centres flexible enough to allow the performers exactly the kind of arena that suited their productions down to the ground, so top notch companies stopped off there simply because it was cutting edge (groan) by the standards of the day. It and the Chichester Festival Theatre were the only two interestingly unconventional, architecturally groundbreaking theatres in West Sussex, which in itself made companies want to perform in them. The seating, though, was agonising right from the start and you could always spot a regular patron because they brought their own cushion with them.

Likewise, the dressing room provision was pretty dire, and as for convenient public transport, forget it.

However, after we'd spent years freezing half to death in Big School for films and plays, the Arts Centre definitely had a lot going for it. I was very sad when I learned that the Horsham arts centre had knocked it off its perch and reduced it to school theatre status. I consider myself very privileged indeed to have been a pupil at the school during the glory years of the Christ's Hospital Arts Centre; it truly did broaden our horizons.

Does the Prep Hall still get used for productions of any kind?
Last edited by Chrissie Boy on Thu Oct 24, 2019 9:41 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: What were your thoughts about the theatre?

Post by CHAZ »

It was a great palce. i was at CH from 1978-1984 and perhaps witnessed the wonder years of Duncan Noel-Patton productions. I even acted in 3 myself.
It was indeed a massive stage and depsite the awful red benches and red surroundings, the quality of the performances on stage soon put to rest any posterior pain. We were indeed spoiled by good quality productions coming to CH...no one will forget Mastermind being recorded there or even the Kings Singers (who?). Like Chrissie Boy it was a wonderful culture escape and the epics of DNP were not to be missed. I recall also the musical Oliver which I saw three times in a week....
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Re: What were your thoughts about the theatre?

Post by Great Plum »

Chrissie Boy wrote:
Wed Oct 23, 2019 9:21 am


Does the Prep Hall still get used for productions of any kind?
By the time I was at CH (1992), the prep hall had been converted into two classrooms (mr Stannard - RE and Mr Fleming (archaeology).

When they started renovating the boarding houses (2001-2010?), the prep block was used as a ‘decant’ boarding house. I don’t think the prep block is used for classrooms now.
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Re: What were your thoughts about the theatre?

Post by Great Plum »

CHAZ wrote:
Wed Oct 23, 2019 2:38 pm
It was a great palce. i was at CH from 1978-1984 and perhaps witnessed the wonder years of Duncan Noel-Patton productions. I even acted in 3 myself.
It was indeed a massive stage and depsite the awful red benches and red surroundings, the quality of the performances on stage soon put to rest any posterior pain. We were indeed spoiled by good quality productions coming to CH...no one will forget Mastermind being recorded there or even the Kings Singers (who?). Like Chrissie Boy it was a wonderful culture escape and the epics of DNP were not to be missed. I recall also the musical Oliver which I saw three times in a week....
Old blue, Jonny Howard, who was a few years below me, is a Kings Singer.
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Re: What were your thoughts about the theatre?

Post by WiltshireChap »

CHAZ wrote:
Wed Oct 23, 2019 2:38 pm
It was a great palce. i was at CH from 1978-1984 and perhaps witnessed the wonder years of Duncan Noel-Patton productions. I even acted in 3 myself.
It was indeed a massive stage and depsite the awful red benches and red surroundings, the quality of the performances on stage soon put to rest any posterior pain. We were indeed spoiled by good quality productions coming to CH...no one will forget Mastermind being recorded there or even the Kings Singers (who?). Like Chrissie Boy it was a wonderful culture escape and the epics of DNP were not to be missed. I recall also the musical Oliver which I saw three times in a week....
Happy memories indeed. The CH Theatre was the start of a life long love of drama for me and I sill go to the theatre multiple times a year. I well remember the filming of Mastermind and between takes, the inimitable Magnus Magnusson asked for a volunteer and I put my hand up. He then called me forward to the contestants chair, the lights went down and he gave me a number of questions that he had just used with the previous candidate giving me a fighting chance of getting some right! So many productions stand out. I acted in Christopher Columbus and Brecht's 'The Caucasian Chalk Circle' and watched oh so many other plays and I even recall a performance of Cosi Fan Tutte. I never baulked at putting pocket money towards shows and consider that part of my schooling to have been an immense privilege

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Re: What were your thoughts about the theatre?

Post by J.R. »

All after my time, I'm afraid.

I have since been in the theatre. Impressive.
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Re: What were your thoughts about the theatre?

Post by Legofan60163 »

Hi All, hope everyone is well.
Current pupil here,
The theatre is under refurbishment until around September next year. It is mainly an electrical refurbishment as far as I know, but the seating is being 'made nicer' and some other fixes are being done. My thoughts on the theatre are completely positive, I am probably the most senior Technical Theatre student the school has had since I have been here (GE, arrived in 2nd Form) I have seen so many performances and helped build almost all that I have been here for so my thoughts may be very one-sided. I know almost everything about how the theatre works and I was there for practically everything and anything done in the theatre last year, it is (was?) my safe space away from the pressure of school life. Not going to lie this year is very tough without it. We have several shows planned in Big School this year which is certainly going to be interesting. I cannot wait for the theatre to be open again and more happy memories to be made within its walls.
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Re: What were your thoughts about the theatre?

Post by sejintenej »

Legofan60163 wrote:
Tue Nov 19, 2019 9:31 pm
Hi All, hope everyone is well.
Current pupil here,
The theatre is under refurbishment until around September next year. ......................................
Good to see a current pupil here and giving us an update from the inside.

Best of luck
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Re: What were your thoughts about the theatre?

Post by Straz »

Great to hear such positive comments about the theatre from a current pupil.
I remember the excitement when the theatre first opened, circa 1974. We'd never seen anything like it!
Clearly it had tremendous potential, while its ability to help further theatrical study and improve performance was obvious.
Now, more than four decades on, it's good to hear that improvements are imminent and that the theatre is about to continue its good work.
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Re: What were your thoughts about the theatre?

Post by Great Plum »

I think they are extending the foyer too!
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Re: What were your thoughts about the theatre?

Post by Legofan60163 »

Great Plum wrote:
Fri Nov 22, 2019 10:43 pm
I think they are extending the foyer too!
Yes they are, they're extending it out through the back door towards the small theatre car park
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Re: What were your thoughts about the theatre?

Post by Great Plum »

Thank goodness for that - the foyer was tiny!
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