The new Belgrade Theatre (Andy Stammers)
My day at the Belgrade Theatre
By Blast arts reporter Rala Kawas
Read about my experience exploring the Belgrade Theatre in an exclusive behind the scenes tour and chat with press officer, Ray Clenshaw.
I feel extremely special today because my day at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry consisted of an exclusive guided tour of the great building and auditoriums. I even got a sneak peak of the dressing rooms, all while listening to the interesting history and facts about the cultural landmark!
Ray Clenshaw, from the press office, began by showing me the main entrance and foyer, which has been refurbished but much of which has been maintained rather than torn away. The mosaics on the wall that date back to the opening of the theatre in 1958, along with the chandeliers have been left in their original artistic state.
The Main Theatre
We then dived straight into the main auditorium, and despite it being under maintenance at the moment, all its glory and grandeur shone through. Not only is it fit for a queen, but this auditorium also seats over 800 people.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the theatre, it was recently re-opened by Prince Edward after a refurbishment and rejuvenation. As a result of the renovation, a new auditorium was built, adding flair, development and modernity to the theatre.
The B2 auditorium, I was amazed to find, is a state of the art inter-changeable auditorium that can alter where the stage is in relation to the audience. While Ray explained this so matter-of-factly, inside, I was speechless!
The New B2 Auditorium
After having a look at the posh-looking but inviting restaurant, we moved swiftly on to explore the bits nobody else gets to see. Through the back-passages, I was shown dressing rooms, all complete with the little lights around the mirrors, which excited me beyond the norm. The Green Room where actors or people that work in the theatre can relax and have something to eat or drink, was also revealed to me.
Ray went on to show me a room for workshops and functions, where members of the community can participate in workshops.
“The centre holds programmes such as Acting Out, which helps people that are struggling at school in a traditional format, so they come here and we use the workshops and to help them with their communication, teamwork and build their confidence,” Ray explained.
My tour ended with a look through an on-going and free exhibition, which has put some space to really good use. The exhibition is called Stages Through the Ages and illustrates how theatre evolved in Coventry throughout history, from the Mystery Plays of Medieval days, all the way through to today’s Godiva Carnival and pantomimes.
To bring my day at the Belgrade to a close, Ray was kind enough to chat to me a little about upcoming events. To me, it goes without saying that the Belgrade offers something for everyone, no exceptions! However, out of the wide array of comedies, musicals, and dramas on offer, Ray recommends one play in particular. The House of Bernarda Alba is a production of the Belgrade Theatre itself, and is a re-make of a Spanish play and sounds like a fiery, emotional and powerful play.
Finally, I simply had to ask about One Night in November, the extremely popular play about Coventry during the blitz, which I have constantly been hearing about. One Night in November has actually been brought back by popular demand.
My day at the Belgrade was an extremely enjoyable one, making me feel very privileged. It is a highly recommended theatre to visit, with very affordable prices for a great night out.
last updated: 11/09/2008 at 14:34