Situated at the heart of the Cotswolds, where three counties and four regions meet, The Theatre Chipping Norton is a mixed arts venue, hosting, co-producing and supporting some of the most exciting, accessible and entertaining culture in the region.
Today we take pride in our existence as a theatre, an art-house cinema, a gallery and a concert hall. We are a resource for our community and a registered charity but we are also a professional venue, welcoming over 50,000 visitors every year. We are something unique, but we are also different things to different people. We are the cause and subject of many arguments and debates, and a fair amount of acclaim and affection. We are complicated and a little eccentric. We are not a little theatre. We like to make a big noise.
Our extensive community and education programmes produced by the Take Part department at The Theatre engages with thousands of people each year through workshops, classes and creative projects, and we develop creative work through Associate Companies, curated festivals and commissioned projects.
"A programme of distinctive artistic adventure" – The Guardian
"So charming it almost hurts" – The Daily Mail
"More intelligent, more esoteric and more intellectually exciting than many a theatre several times its size" – Oxfordshire Life
This fabulous building began life as a Salvation Army Citadel, with the first stones, still visible on the front exterior of the building, being laid on 3 August 1888. In a strange quirk of fate, its designers and engineers had also worked on many Victorian Music Halls, leaving it perfectly proportioned for its future theatrical life.
The Salvation Army left the Citadel in 1962 and for some years the building was used as a furniture warehouse. In 1968 two Royal Shakespeare Company actors, Tamara and John Malcolm, discovered the building was up for sale and realised it’s potential. An anonymous benefactor provided them with a loan and they submitted an application for planning permission to convert it into a theatre. In September 1973, fundraising for the new theatre began in earnest, and the year was crowned with The Theatre’s first Christmas Show, Beauty and the Beast, staged in the town hall. The Theatre began as a true community resource, with residents of Chipping Norton each asked to contribute £1 towards the conversion.
In June 1974, a grant from the Gulbenkian Foundation enabled the purchase of an adjoining cottage in Spring Street which was converted into the Bar and Gallery areas. The Theatre was then opened in 1975 by Tom Baker, who was then Dr Who, and began with a light programme including films and lunchtime Jazz concerts. The Theatre continued to grow and flourish, expanding its programme and reputation and purchasing, in 1990, the building in Goddards Lane that now serves as the main daytime box office, green room, offices, dressing rooms and rehearsal space.
1996 saw a major refurbishment, funded in part by The Arts Council, improving many aspects of the building, particularly the stage and wing space. Graham Rust, one of Europe’s finest muralists, was commissioned to produce a set of murals in the bar. In May 2002, not long after receiving a well deserved MBE for her services to The Theatre, Tamara Malcolm passed on the mantle of Artistic Director to Caroline Sharman.
The Space was constructed in 2007 following a major leak through the flat roof of the Gallery. In order to resolve the problem a pitched roof was required so it was decided to raise funds to insert a new room above the existing Gallery. As well as successfully resolving the problem this much needed room is now used on a daily basis for the Youth Theatre and other Take Part sessions and workshops.
The Theatre has built a strong reputation over the years for producing its own creative work, and notable performances of Yerma, Don Giovanni, Taste and Huck live in the minds of our audiences. These stand alongside perhaps our greatest claim to fame, the world-renowned Chippy family pantomime, which draws on a long history of traditional values, top-notch creative teams, and original, daring twists to make it an irreplaceable part of countless family Christmases.
In 2008, John Terry took over from Caroline as Artistic Director, overseeing a period of further growth and professionalisation, and receiving on behalf of The Theatre, the 2009/10 TMA Stage Award for Achievement in Regional Theatre. The Theatre now stands as a rare example of a successful rural receiving and producing theatre, funded and supported almost entirely by local people, local councils and local businesses as well as the Friends Membership scheme and Citadel Club. The Theatre also receives some support from charitable trusts and foundations but is not currently in receipt of funding from Arts Council England.
We are a hub where local people, businesses and organisations can meet, work, play and be entertained. Come and join us and see why so many people have fallen for The Theatre Chipping Norton, and why it remains a local and regional treasure.
Take Part At The Theatre:
The Take Part department is a core component of The Theatre, Chipping Norton. It provides the opportunities for people of all ages to participate actively and creatively and there is an ever growing sense of its importance within The Theatre itself and amongst the wider community. Not only is it a recognised provider of excellent regular sessions such as our highly-regarded Youth Theatre and holiday workshops, it is constantly expanding into a valuable resource for both schools and local community groups.
Regular Sessions and Workshops include:
Cinema Bambino (for babies with their carers)
Cinema Bambino consists of special film sessions for parents/carers with young babies who are often isolated at home and find it hard to access mainstream evening performances. Membership £5. Tickets per film £3, 50p per child.
The Orange Hat (Tuesday & Friday mornings) for babies/ toddlers with their carers.
Orange Hat is run by professional actor Paula Stephens for young children aged 6 months - 4 years who attend with their carers. Weekly sessions revolve around a puppet, Peggotty the Hen, and focus on singing and storytelling. These have proved a wonderful confidence-developer for the children and a very happy introduction to the world of theatre.
Saturday Drama (for 5 - 7 year olds)
New for September 2012, Saturday Drama sessions take place at The Theatre on Saturdays for 5-7 year olds during term time. Led by local actor and workshop leader, Lucy Joseph, these sessions aim to build confidence and creativity through improvisation, mime, storytelling, character work and games. Tickets: £60 per ten week term
Youth Theatre (Monday - Friday) for 7 - 18 year olds
Our Youth Theatre was founded in 1989 and now numbers are approximately 200 young people between the ages of 7 and 18 drawn from Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire. Its 10 groups meet weekly during term time with the emphasis on developing confidence and performance skills, largely through the devising process, although script work is also covered. Youth Theatre members have the opportunity to perform productions on our stage. Older members are encouraged to assist with younger groups to further develop their skills. Tickets: £60 per ten week term
Youth Musical Theatre (Thursday evenings) for 8+ years
Our Youth Musical Theatre meets weekly during term-time and has approximately 35 members between the ages of
8 – 14 years. These sessions help participants to develop performance techniques whilst also promoting confidence, commitment, communication and collaborative skills. They concentrate on singing and dancing and produce an annual showcase at The Theatre. Tickets: £70 per ten week term
Half Term and Summer Holiday Workshops
Catering for young people from 5 years during half terms and Easter holidays, recent workshops have included ‘A Play in Two Days’, street dance, Musical Theatre Experience and Orange Hat Holiday workshops.
Take Part runs for a month during the summer holidays, providing week-long theatre experience workshops for young people aged 8 - 20 and morning workshops for those aged 5 - 7. During Summer 2013 The Theatre welcomed over 327 young people through its doors who participated in a wide range of activities, from dance workshops for 5-7 year olds to a full production of Grease by a cast of 35 teenagers.
Standby Ticket Offers for ages 14– 25 years
The Theatre offers a number of tickets for live and film events to young people at a bargain price of £2 a ticket. Individuals sign up as a member for free and receive information via email on events where the offers apply. The scheme is driven by a group of local young people who pick the shortlist of events from the season’s programme and encourage their friends and peers to attend. For more information and to pick up an application form to join the scheme, please contact the Box Office. This fantastic Standby offer is available to anyone between the ages of 14-25 years who sign up to the scheme and have a valid Student Identification Card or alternative proof of age identification.
Creative Writing (Monday mornings) for Adults
Using examples, discussion and practical exercises, the sessions aim to stimulate the creativity of participants who are encouraged to share their own work in a creative and supportive environment.
Tickets: £65 per ten week term
Adult Drama Group (Tuesday evenings) for 18+ years
The sessions focus on a wide range of skills including drama exercises, breath and voice work, exploring plays, improvisation and characterisation. Previous experience is not necessary – it is for those who enjoy drama and theatre but also for those who wish to come along to improve their self confidence. Tickets: £60 per ten week term
Dance 50+ (Wednesday mornings)
This group aspires to keep participants fit and mobile and to rekindle the joy of moving to music. Led by a qualified EXTEND tutor, these sessions are open to participants aged 50+. Tickets: £60 per ten week term
The Singing Group (Thursday evenings for ages 16+ yrs)
Research shows that singing has many benefits, including reducing stress and inspiring self confidence. The Singing Group will offer you a chance to explore your singing voice, as well as meeting new people and enjoying yourself.
Led by Cat Kelly, Musical Director of Rising Voices and Director of Folk Weekend Oxford, this group will sing a wide repertoire, from pop classics to traditional folk songs and world music. There are no auditions; you don’t need to be able to read music – whether you are a complete novice or an experienced singer, there will be something for everyone. These sessions (including the taster) will be taking place at the Parish Rooms, Church St, Chipping Norton. Ages 12+ years welcome if accompanied by an adult.
Tickets: £24 (six sessions).
Sat 1st March, 10am – 4pm.
SNAP CHIPPY! A ONE DAY PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE (For ages 16 - Adult)
If you are keen to get creative with your digital camera this one day course will get you inspired and confident to produce stunning images. First you will recap the most important settings on your camera and then photograph the unique environment of The Theatre and its hidden corners. Using images shot in the morning, you will learn Photoshop elements that add a creative sparkle by altering colour balance, using fill, brush or pencil tools, filters and creating montages.
This workshop is aimed at those who own a Digital SLR camera and have a basic understanding of the manual modes, but would like to get more from their camera. Participants will need to bring a DSLR Camera and a Card reader or USB lead and a memory stick.
Music Into Care Homes & Music Therapy
In 2008 The Theatre received funding for a 2 year project called Music Into Care Homes which was used to enable professional musicians to visit six care homes within the vicinity of Chipping Norton. To continue our community work within care homes during January - May 2013, The Theatre will be coordinating Music Therapy sessions, funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, for twelve weeks in three Chipping Norton care homes. Music therapy aims to encourage self expression, provide stimulation and enables the residents to share an experience with others, therefore increasing motivation and enhancing quality of life.
Community Events at The Theatre
Over the years The Theatre has played host to a variety of events in support of raising both awareness for individuals, groups and organisations.
Take Part is currently involved in the Chipping Norton Light’s Up project for people living with Dementia.
As an organisation we feel it is important for The Theatre to support and reach out to our local community and we will continue to do so in the form of workshops, sessions, community plays and projects.
Why Take Part?
Take Part is proud to have a fantastic network of theatre professionals who lead our sessions and workshops. By taking part at The Theatre, children, young people, families, adults, communities and organisations experience opportunities to express themselves in a creative environment. In addition to developing creative and collaborative skills, participants build confidence and self expression, explore ideas and meet new people.
To join our mailing list and receive our seasonal brochure of events and Take Part activities or to purchase tickets call the Box Office on 01608 642350 or visit our website www.chippingnortontheatre.com
To support our work please visit www.chippingnortontheatrecom/supportus or contact the Fundraising Department on 01608 649104
For all other enquiries please call our administration line on 01608 642349 email@example.com
The Theatre, 2 Spring Street, Chipping Norton, Oxon, OX7 5NL. Registered Charity No. 268154 Company No. 01179918