Curtain up in Sheffield on new Local Theatre

A shop on Snig Hill has been turned into a new theatre that hopes to get different types of audiences through the door.

By Julia Armstrong
Monday, 08 April, 2019, 18:05

The Local Theatre opened with a full house for its launch party on Saturday and this week welcomes its first audiences for the opening show in its debut season, The Love Chronicles.

Opening the theatre has fulfilled a long-held dream for executive director Miranda Debenham, said artistic director Tim Norwood. They met asv members of the University of Sheffield’s Light Entertainment Society.

The new Local Theatre in Snig Hill, Sheffield, decorated by ArtWorks volunteers

He said: “Me and Miranda have been making it happen. She always had a dream of opening a theatre. She sat down and thought she’d get it started.”

Tim will be concentrating mainly on the creative side of the venture but everyone has turned their hands to lots of practical jobs to get the theatre open.

He said: “This morning I was trying to fill up a water urn with a long length of hose. That’s the glamorous life of an artistic director!”

The theatre aims to be bring in a wide range of people, Tim said: “What we were hoping to do is to start a place that can be part of a community and that can be part of the Sheffield landscape.

“We want to be a place where you go to the cafe, where there are other people from the theatre and arts hanging out. We are trying to get as many groups in as possible.

“It’s a place where you might go on a school trip to see your first piece of theatre.”

The theatre is a social enterprise set up with help from Key Fund. Tim said: “We’re running projects to help people into employment and help improve the quality of life for people, focusing on people with learning disabilities.

“We’ve done a project with ArtWorks, who designed and did all the decorating of the venue, from the walls to the tables and floors as well. They’re also going to staff the cafe.”

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The space looks fantastic, like a giant theatre set in white with outlines of pictures, mirrors, lamps, plants and furniture all drawn on the walls in black.

The performance space, which seats 60, is in the basement. It can be hired as a rehearsal space.

Another partnership with Age UK will invite older people in to the theatre for events aimed at them.

Tim said they will also be supporting up-and-coming performers from Sheffield and elsewhere in the North, helping them to develop their work and running workshops for them to improve their skills.

The workshops will also be open to anyone who just wants to have a go at getting into the theatre world, said Tim. “We will give residences to people starting out, including rehearsal space and mentoring from me and Miranda. 

“We’re trying to minimise the costs to performers as much as possible. They don’t have to hire the space, we can just split the ticket revenue with them. We’re trying to help people out as much as possible.”

The theatre will champion its own innovative work, too. First in-house show, My Apologies (June 19-22), follows a couple’s relationship and each scene ends when one says sorry to the other.

First up, though, this week is a visiting production, The Love Chronicles, featuring many tales of love and loss. It runs to Saturday (April 13).

The Local Theatre is at 24-26 Snig Hill. Website: thelocaltheatre.com