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About us

About us

Welcome to the Gatehouse Theatre, where we are celebrating our 40th anniversary in 2022 – and you’re invited to join in the fun.

We offer a range of touring shows and in-house productions, covering big name acts and top touring companies to home-grown talent and our popular summer school shows.

We also produce the prestigious annual Stafford Shakespeare production, which marks its 30th year this summer with ROMEO + JULIET  in the grounds of Stafford Castle, drawing thousands of visitors from all over the UK and beyond.

We have two performance spaces: the main auditorium, with a seating capacity of 545 and adaptable space of  The MET Studio, which can seat up to 140 guests in a number of configurations.

During the day, the theatre houses a smart new coffee shop (Mon-Sat 10am-3pm) offering top quality drinks and snacks in a beautiful setting, complete with free upgraded Wi-Fi and USB charging points.

At night, the theatre’s bar is the perfect place for a pre-show drink or post-show chat – often with the stars of the production popping in.

The  theatre also houses Stafford’s Visitor Information Service, with a touch-screen information centre and helpful staff, where you can find information on regional and national events. Open: Monday to Saturday 9.30am – 5.30pm.

Call in today, because after all, life begins at 40 . . .

 

Forty years ago, the Gatehouse Theatre officially opened its doors for the first time and breathed new life into Stafford’s historic Borough Hall.

With a new extension and a painstaking refurbishment, the 19th century building was re-imagined as a modern new centre for arts and entertainment.

Back then its three main aims (as laid out by the borough council) were to be: ‘A hall for civic assembly, a concert hall for the performance of music and a theatre for the performance of drama.’

The over-riding ambition was to be an arts centre for the cultural life of the community.

In the four decades since, I think the Gatehouse has more than lived up to that billing – as well as adding some bonus features too!

From the very start, youth theatre was a key element of the Gatehouse script and as we approach this milestone it is fitting that we also celebrate 40 years of contributions from young people that continue to this day.

Back in the 1980s, I was lucky enough to have been a part of the Grass Roots Youth Theatre and it was a period that helped shape not just my life, but the lives of many others too.

Some of my young pals went on to national showbusiness success – comedian Dave Gorman and producer Derek Gask, for example – while others have been mainstays of the local arts and culture scene in Stafford for decades.

But irrespective of career paths, I remember that every single person involved gained confidence, learned about working together and grew as young people during their time at the theatre.

They came to life on stage and in turn became the lifeblood of the burgeoning new Gatehouse.

It has been the same ever since and my own journey has brought me full circle, to be the manager of the theatre that I love so much and which helped set me on my career.

One of my key aims in the role is to encourage young people to get involved in the theatre and I am delighted that we have such a flourishing Gatehouse Youth Theatre group, now specialising in various aspects of stagecraft.

It’s not all about stepping into the limelight, as there are many people who shine backstage in creative and technical roles, without whom the show simply couldn’t go on.

As we look ahead to a new season in Eastgate Street, it is a sign of the depth of talent in Stafford that there are so many excellent youth theatre shows in our programme; from MYTS’ The Wind In the Willows, to the GYT’s Songs For A New World, then the annual Summer School and beyond, young people continue to take centre stage in who we are and what we do.

But it’s not just about the youngsters (talented as they may be!).

The historic Musical Theatre Stafford celebrates its 100th anniversary this year – and a century of shows at the Gatehouse since its Borough Hall days.

In October they will be back with The Addams Family and that will be another real highlight of the calendar.

Similarly, the Stafford Players mark 75 years of plays at the Gatehouse this year – having first performed here back in 1947. They will be back in action in November with the much-anticipated The Memory of Water.

Another milestone is the 30th anniversary of the Stafford Festival Shakespeare productions at the castle and this year I have the honour of directing ROMEO + JULIET.

It promises to be a memorable return (after two years away due to Covid) and everyone involved is looking forward to producing a show worthy of this landmark occasion.

Rounding off the season is our annual pantomime, where we invite you to join us at the ball (with a star-studded cast) for Cinderella.

In exchange for a princely sum, we’ll supply the laughs, the music, the glass slipper and fancy carriage and we promise to have you back by midnight!

Finally, a special word of gratitude to you – our customers, volunteers, supporters and friends – who have made 2022 such a resounding success so far.

It is thanks to you that ticket sales are up, the building is looking better than ever and your theatre is thriving as it hits the big 4-0.

Here’s to the next 40 years!

Tim Ford

Theatre Manager

We look forward to welcoming you to the Gatehouse. Please find technical information for visiting companies on the link below.

Technical specifications for visiting companies

If you need further information, please contact Wesley Carter on 01785 619080.

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