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New dawn at Phoenix Theatre
PHOENIX Theatre is rising again – not from the ashes, but into a cultural centre for the community.
The theatre was opened in 2003 in Swindon’s New College, and has been a platform for performing arts students, but now Phoenix is reaching out to a wider audience.
It is being relaunched as a professional theatre to benefit the students, local drama, dance and arts groups and produce shows open to the public.
Spearheading the relaunch is Matthew Clift, theatre production manager and lecturer.
He said: “We want to let people know there is another professional theatre in the town. We have a new box office which we have renovated and as BTEC performing arts is a vocational course we sign up two students for box offices duties.”
The theatre has a huge festival of arts lined up for this year kicking off with a Halloween project that is a joint production between Whole Hog, the resident theatre company, and drama students.
“We are doing a scary show on Halloween night,’’ said Matthew.
“It is a new play, Call of Cthulhu, which evokes ancient rituals, paranoia and blood curdling creatures, all brought to life in an atmospheric staging that will explore the depths of horror.”
Tickets are £5.
Whole Hog Theatre Company has been accepted by the Royal Shakespeare Company for Open Stages which means that they put on a Shakespeare play and are mentored by the RSC.
“We are doing Much Ado About Nothing and will begin rehearsals in the Phoenix in January.
“Only 100 companies are chosen and if selected we will perform at the RSC,” said Matthew.
There is also a new dance studio in Phoenix, which has visiting companies giving professional masterclasses, such as the Hofesh Dance Company who recently held a workshop in contemporary dance.
Matthew, who has been at the Phoenix for seven years, said: “We are also part of the National Theatre Connections project where the students perform a new play and if they are selected, perform in another theatre.
“Last year it was Salisbury Playhouse. The the best of the best are then chosen to perform at the National Theatre in London.”
Around 200 students a year use the Phoenix and produce about 18 shows.
They are taking B-Tech performing arts, dance and music courses or A-level drama and music.
Matthew hopes that amateur drama, music and dance groups will use the Phoenix for shows.
“New College has an open day on October 12 and I will be in the theatre all day to chat about Phoenix,” he said.
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