Opening Night for Merton Arts Space
London theatre news: Saturday 3 December 2016
New shows - Opening - Theatres
Bucking the trend for closures and reduced funding for the arts, Merton Council opens its new Merton Arts Space at Wimbledon Library with its first professional production: Great Expectations from Attic Theatre Company.
Over the past few years of austerity, we've become depressingly familiar with closures of arts spaces and reduced funding for the arts in general, as well as a whole range of other services provided by local councils.
But Merton Council have just managed to buck this trend by creating a new, flexible arts space right in the centre of Wimbledon.
Merton Arts Space was created by transforming the reference section of Wimbledon Library into a space for exhibitions, theatrical performances, concerts and arts workshops.
The new venue was officially opened last night by the Mayor of Merton, Councillor Brenda Fraser, on the opening night of Attic Theatre Company's adaptation of Charles Dickens’s classic novel Great Expectations, the first professional production at the new venue.
Merton Arts Space has capacity for audiences of up to 250 people seated or 300 standing.
There are professional lighting rigs and sound equipment including a mixing desk.
Two exhibition rooms off the main performance space can be hired separately.
During library opening times, the space reverts to the reference section where library users can do their research, study, work or read the newspaper.
The reference section was originally a separate building used for theatre and community events before it became part of Wimbledon Library.
Its heritage has been restored through Merton Arts Space, which was set up with £65,626 funding from the Arts Council.
Theatre groups, bands, orchestras and arts organisations interested in staging performances or exhibitions should contact Merton Council which is putting together a programme of events for 2017.
Cabinet member for community and culture, Councillor Nick Draper said:
“It is fantastic to see the curtain go up in Merton Arts Space on this, its official opening night, after all the hard work and creativity which has gone into transforming part of the Wimbledon Library building into a unique joint library and multi-use arts venture.
“Merton Arts Space is a truly versatile venue with excellent transport links in the heart of Wimbledon.
For more information about staging a performance or holding an exhibition at Merton Arts Space, call 0333 370 4700.
A more than suitably titled production for the opening of a new venue, Attic Theatre Company's Great Expectations runs at Merton Arts Space until 18 December.
Carmen Rodriguez as Miss Havisham (right) & Rhiannon Neads as Estella - photo by: Jack Ladenburg
The production marks Louise Hill's final show as artistic director of the company after two and a half years at the helm.
Dickens's epic tale of romance, ruthless ambition and revenge has been adapted by Theresa Heskins.
The show has been designed by final year Theatre Design students from Wimbledon College of Art, with mentor support from professional theatre designer Alex Marker.
Tom Chapman - Pip
Derek Howard - Magwitch and Father and Jaggers
Carmen Rodriguez - Miss Havisham and Mother
Hannah Boyde - Mrs Joe and Startop
Anthony Glennon - Joe and Drummle
Roger Ringrose - Pumblechook, Wemmick and Camilla
Rory Fazan - Herbert Pocket, Sarah Pocket and Sergeant
Rhiannon Neads - Estella, Biddy and Molly
Director: Louise Hill
Designer: Anne Kezia Williams, Ziyue Gong, Alex Marker (Design mentor)
Musical direction: Christopher Killerby
Choreography: Lucy Charles
Lighting: Neill Brinkworth
Sound: Daniel Balfour
Fight director: Ronin Traynor
Merton Arts Space
Wimbledon Hill Road
London SW19 7NB
Great Expectations from Attic Theatre Company continues at
Merton Arts Space until 18 December 2016
£16; £12.50 concessions
Auitable for ages 11+
Running time 2 hours
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