Reopening of Bloomsbury Theatre gives students and staff new stage for research-based education
13 February 2019
UCL Culture promotes theatre and performance as a mode of research and investigation
The historic Bloomsbury Theatre at UCL has officially reopened its doors following a specialist £19.8m restoration project and upgrading of its 541-seat auditorium, stage and fly-tower.
UCL students and staff can access the state-of-the-art facilities to make work, carry out research and stage productions, alongside a year-round programme of innovative comedy, theatre, music and dance from visiting companies.
The three and half year renovation is the first major investment in the building’s history, aimed at modernising the theatre’s technical and audio-visual features, while maintaining the Brutalist aesthetic and historic fabric of the theatre.
The role of theatre in a research intensive university
UCL Culture, which manages the theatre and its programming, is to dedicate more space to student-led productions, providing greater opportunity for students to learn, experiment and create outside of their academic programmes. The theatre will continue to feature high profile and household names, while bringing in more research-led performance, that offer opportunities for innovation and discovery across art, design, science and technology.
Simon Cane, Executive Director of UCL Culture, said: ‘We are excited to present a refreshed approach to our programming that offers a mix of new and experimental theatre, research-driven content and high-profile and household names.
‘This will allow us to be at the forefront of the use of theatre and performance as a mode of research and investigation, challenging traditional ideas about the role of theatre in a research intensive university.’
First opened in 1968 as the Central Collegiate Building Auditorium (later the Collegiate Theatre), it was renamed in 1982 as The Bloomsbury Theatre to reflect its geographical location, as well as the artistic associations of the name. A studio with 70 seats was added in 2015 providing a more flexible space and an alternative to the main theatre. Over the years it has attracted famous artists including UCL alumnus Ricky Gervais, singer Adele, American Jazz artist Gregory Porter, comedian Jo Brand and Stomp percussion group.
The Bloomsbury Theatre restoration is part of the Transforming UCL programme, the largest capital programme in the university’s history which involves the investment of £1.2 billion to upgrade and expand UCL’s accommodation and facilities.