Curtain falls on Bloomsbury Theatre as closure announced until 2016

Curtain falls on Bloomsbury Theatre as closure announced until 2016

UCL Bloomsbury Theatre set to close from now until summer 2016

Following on from the recent discovery of asbestos in the Bloomsbury Theatre auditorium, UCL confirmed today that the theatre will be closed from now until around summer 2016.

The recent developments and the complexity of the work mean that the works will take longer than anticipated.  We have therefore brought forward the closure to be effective from now, to allow us to keep the planned re-opening, scheduled for summer 2016.

A previous announcement made by the university’s spokesman to the London Evening Standard noted that “further implications are unclear at this time”, aside from the cancellation of all performances scheduled for August.

Now, it seems that any hopes of the theatre reopening before the next season of student productions are severely dashed. Four of these were scheduled to take place in Term 1 from 19 November – 5 December, including Coram Boy and The Mystery of Edwin Drood, UCLU’s first choice Bloomsbury student productions.

Becky Pinnington, Director of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, said

Having spent so much time meticulously organising every aspect of the creative process ready to start work in September, it is absolutely devastating to find out that The Mystery of Edwin Drood may not happen at all this year. UCLU are looking into some great alternative venues for Drood but I’ve not got high hopes of securing one so close to the performance dates.

Though I am obviously extremely disappointed, I can’t say I’m surprised. I mean, of course the Bloomsbury is closed all year; I’m more surprised it’s due to asbestos than that it’s closed at all. It just follows in the great tradition of Arts societies being robbed of space, funding and resources; one that has been ongoing since I arrived at UCL.

Nor is procuring a venue through the other alternative, UCLU’s Roaming Garage Theatre, a straightforward process. According to an UCLU Arts society insider, it was extremely difficult to find a Roaming Garage venue 9 months in advance in 2013/14. This persisted into the last academic year; finding venues for cancelled Term 2 Bloomsbury shows proved notoriously difficult even twelve months in advance.

Another source from inside the Union also confirmed that it would be “nigh on impossible” to find alternative venues for these shows, and it’s “almost certain” that any venue UCLU does manage to find will not be of a comparable size to the Bloomsbury Theatre. UCL have not committed to funding any of the new venues.

Producers of the plays that would have been staged at the theatre have been advised to seek refunds for rights: copyrighted shows require the organiser to buy these rights in advance.

The Bloomsbury Theatre’s new studio will continue to operate as normal.

With these developments in mind, the future of UCLU Arts productions looks increasingly uncertain.

Image credit: UCL

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