Sheffield theatre which is home to amateur dramatics remains in darkness with no reopening date

The curtains are still down on a Sheffield theatre, known as the home of amature dramatics, 18 months after it closed at the start of the pandemic.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 10:07 am

The Library Theatre, which is underneath Central Library and owned by Sheffield Council, hasn’t reopened even though other venues are now welcoming audiences back.

Amateur thespian Coun Joe Otten has appeared in several performances at the theatre and put the spotlight on what’s happening.

He said: “I’m aware that a group I’m involved in, Denys Edwards Players, have twice had to postpone their production of When we Are Married.

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Coun Joe Otten In A Production Of Bedroom Farce At Sheffield Library Theatre (Image Alan Thompson)

“They were told it would probably open in August, then probably September and now no decision until November. They’ve given up restarting and stopping rehearsals for the show and have postponed it.

“The Montgomery Theatre and the University Drama Studio are both open now and it looks like the Merlin may be opening again soon, so this would appear to leave the Library as the last to reopen.”

Coun Alison Teal, Executive member for leisure, said it was difficult to ventilate the building, which holds an audience of 264, to keep it Covid secure.

When the theatre does reopen, it will probably be with smaller audiences.

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Coun Teal said: “We are working with the property and facilities management team to come up with a ventilation system that meets the Health and Safety Executive’s recent advice and the Government’s autumn and winter plan advice, which is to ensure good ventilation of indoor spaces where people meet.

“The Library Theatre is housed underground in the Central Library building and has no natural ventilation.

“It does have an extraction air handling system which will need assessing against the new requirements.

“Once the management team has advised on whether additional measures to aid ventilation are possible, we can plan for a reopening probably at reduced capacity.”

The Library Theatre was originally designed as a lecture hall when the Central Library was built in 1934 but has hosted films, dance, music, circus, magic, stand-up comedy, pantomimes and burlesque. It was used as an air raid shelter during the war.