New plans for school theatre

A porters lodge could be demolished to make way for the extension and refurbishment of Shrewsbury School's drama theatre.

The proposed new look for the theatre at Shrewsbury School
The proposed new look for the theatre at Shrewsbury School

The school has applied to Shropshire Council to refurbish the Ashton Theatre.

The proposal, submitted by Glenn Howells Architects, is to relocate the main entrance to the east side of the building, as well as re-locating the school reception within the foyer.

The plan says: "The current proposals aim to give the theatre a greater presence in the life of the school, both visually and socially.

"The ambition is for a new entrance foyer, doubling as the reception, that is a focal point and has a stronger identity.

"Ashton Theatre sits at the south end of the school campus, close to Ashton Road.

"It is bounded to the south by Churchills Hall, to the west by Ingram’s Hall and the Sports Centre, to the north by the Sports Pavilion/ School Shop.

"Immediately to the east of the theatre is a simple two-storey dwelling and beyond that the War Memorial.

"The proposals have been developed to create a predominantly transparent, contemporary insertion into a context of fine Victorian buildings.

"The elevations have large panes of glazing to aid in achieving the intervisibility between Churchill’s Hall, the war memorial and the surrounding buildings."

The Ashton Theatre was formed out of a gymnasium that was built in 1938, subsequently extended and refurbished into a theatre in the 1960s.

The theatre is mostly used for drama teaching with occasional productions. The effective use for drama teaching is limited by the fixed theatre format and back of house spaces.

The plans add: "The refurbishment of the theatre together with the provision of new rehearsal spaces in the extension will enable improved and more varied drama teaching, extending up to A-level."

Occasionally the school puts on dramatic productions with seating for about 250.

The refurbishment will include the modernisation of the seating, lighting and sound systems, also improve inclusivity and increase toilet provision. However, one of the functions of the new foyer will be as the front of house for an audience as the theatre does not currently have a foyer of any note.

The plans will be considered by Shropshire Council in the coming weeks.

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