The Bloomsbury Theatre is expected to close from January 2016 for 18 weeks
UCL Estates have struck again, with the announcement that – despite student bids recently having been accepted to put on productions in the Spring term – the Bloomsbury Theatre building will be closed for 18 weeks from late January.
In what’s beginning to look like an inexplicably vindictive vendetta raged by UCL, directors and producers of student productions in the Bloomsbury Theatre were told by UCLU staff on Thursday that the situation was “evolving”. The building is closing due to the ongoing works around campus.
It’s believed no work will be done to the theatre itself, since it has already undergone a part-renovation, including thousands of pounds’ worth of new seats. While much of the building will be closed, possibly including the Clubs and Societies Centre which is the spiritual home of the arts societies and the occasional stray sportsperson, Bloomsbury Fitness will be open for business. This is because work on it will be done over the summer, to avoid inconveniencing anyone.
Meanwhile, the Arts and General Interest societies feel somewhat inconvenienced. This development means that students will lose six weeks in the Bloomsbury Theatre. For the people who get the chance to put on a show in this professional, West End theatre, it is an irreplaceable life experience.
Emma Groome, the incoming President of UCLU Musical Theatre Society and whose production of West Side Story has been thrown into disarray by the news, told Pi:
“I mean, I don’t really have anything to say. At least anything that’s not riddled with expletives. They’ve taken our Garage. They’ve taken our Bloomsbury. They may take our theatres but they will never take our ART.”
She added: “Anyone up for West Side Story in Cruciform Lecture Theatre 1?” showing the clear disbelief among the relevant societies that UCL cares so little about the arts. Indeed, expressions of how absurd the entire situation is are rather common among all sensible human beings.
UCLU staff are now picking up the pieces, working on replacing said life experience. The idea is to hire out an alternative theatre, with several currently under consideration. Some are, apparently, ‘questionable.’
However, the fate of the professional technicians resident in the Bloomsbury is unclear. In fact, the theatre staff only found out about the closure the day before the news was announced to students – in what is, at best, poor form from UCL.
The potential loss of the technicians, while worrying in its own sense, is also deeply concerning for members of Stage Crew Society. Unlike in other theatres, Bloomsbury technicians are required to be able to teach – by losing the Garage, allowing Stage Crew to practice and innovate, and now losing the Bloomsbury with its invaluable staff, Stage Crew’s structural problems are bound to intensify.
Rachael Barber, the outgoing President of UCLU Dance Society summed up the feelings of many, saying: “UCL need to start putting the students first.
P.S. UCL sucks.”
UCL has been contacted for comment.