A fortuitous tweet this morning alerted me to the fact that our local theatre – literally at the top of our road – was having an open day today. Well this was an opportunity not to be missed so I hot-footed it up to see what I could see and photograph. We have seen a fair number of shows and events at the Palace Theatre with the most recent being to see The South in concert.
The Palace is a great little theatre with a chequered history as the Open Day guide describes. It first opened in 1912 and since then financial troubles have seen it close and re-open a number of times most recently between 2005 and 2006. Since 2006 it has been owned and operated by HQ theatres in conjuction with the Southend Cliffs Pavilion and from what I can see both are doing very well at the moment.
One thing I particularly like about the Palace is that it shares the architecture and a number of internal details that we have in our home – which was built in 1901. Having the opportunity to photograph some of these details was great and I spent a good hour poking about in all the nooks and crannies of the theatre and took a few hundred photographs.
I started off on the most important part of the theatre – the stage. It has a really pronounced slope back to front and one of the theatre group who were there to answer questions (The Little Theatre Company) told me it has the steepest slope of any theatre in the UK. This is to give all members of the audience in the Stalls the best view possible. I then had a nosey in / around / under / behind the stage before heading off to look around the public areas of the seating and stairwells.
I finished up by looking around the Dixon Studio (a small additional theatre space) and the various changing rooms and green room for the performers. All in all it was a very interesting visit which I would recommend to anyone.
The front of house ares of the theatre are in pretty good condition generally whereas the back of house could do with a bit of tlc. That said the auidence don’t see what goes on backstage generally so I guess it matters little if a bit of sprucing up is needed.
Having seen all the backstage areas like this I’d really like to see backstage while a show is going on. I guess it would be a hive of achivity with actors and stage hands running about all over the place. Really rather fun and something I’d like to maybe get involved with sometime. A little know fact is that I used to be part of the lighting team at my secondary school for school productions and often controlled the follow-spot in school productions.
I have uploaded a fair number of the photos I took to a google+ album which you can find here plus I have included a selection below with descriptions (not in the order I took them though). I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed being there and taking them. As always do leave any comments below. Enjoy.