Cardiff Theatre History
The first Cardiff theatre opened in a loft over a stable in 1825, a year later the old Theatre Royal opened in Crockherbtown. A lane of the same name is less than 100 yards from the current location of the New Theatre.
In 1877 the Theatre Royal burnt down. The ‘new ‘Theatre Royal’ opened in Wood Street opened a year later in 1878.
The New Theatre built in 1906 has had an eventful journey to the present day, however a major refurbishment in 1970 brought the theatre up to date. Making it one of the most loved theatres outside London.
The New Theatre uses its stairways and corridors to display art works and sculpture.
In 1954 the Welsh National Opera took up residence at the New Theatre. This lasted until 2004, when the Wales Millennium Centre opened and the Welsh National Opera moved to its current location there.
Cardiff theatre started the year at the Wales Millennium Centre with Oliver. During the year a large and diverse selection of performances will be put on including South Pacific, Dirty Dancing, Sister Act and The Phantom of the Opera, comedians Rhod Gilbert and Jimmy Carr will also put on shows and Opera productions of La Boheme and The Mandela Trilogy will feature in the calendar.
In 1982 St David’s Hall opened and it and quickly became recognised as one of the most lauded concert halls in the UK and Europe, hosting symphony concerts and one-night performances. It is also home to the Welsh Proms.
Cardiff Theatre – alternative venues
Cardiff Theatre is represented by a number of small theatres and art centers spread across the city.
Cathays hosts Sherman Cymru. The original Cardiff theatre was called Sherman Theatre and opened in 1973 in 2007 Sherman Cymru was formed through the merger of Sherman Theatre Limited and Sgript Cymru Limited. The theatre produces plays and dramas in both Welsh and English.
Across town can be found the Chapter Arts Centre a true favorite with students and lovers of cardiff theatre and film for many years.
Chapter Arts Centre is a good place to meet, its bar has won awards and there are 2 cinemas. It regularly has exhibitions and events to go with the film screenings and other performances. Also to be found is a gallery and cultural workshops.
Chapter makes a point of offering facilities to minority groups and has pioneered cinema access for the disabled. It also has some innovative film workshops for schools.
Cardiff theatre students learn their trade at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. The college is sited within the grounds of Cardiff castle in a magnificent new innovative building. Courses at the college include research stage theatre stage management and event management Theatre art and scenic art and construction. As well as bachelors and masters degrees in music. The college includes a number of performances open to the public. The programme is extensive, varied and at times experimental.
The Gate is a community Cardiff theatre in Roath with a Gallery and Coffee shop. Based in an Old Church in Keppoch Street It is mainly Christian, though multi disciplined.
Cardiff has growing theatre awareness and some of the schools holiday activity programs are producing at the end of a week some excellent performances for budding talent.
There is an excellent ‘spot on the web’ which reviews not only Cardiff theatre but also Theatre in Wales. Here you get a comprehensive picture of performances in and around Cardiff with reviews of recent acts, performances and shows. There is plenty there so get a coffee and browse at leisure.
By Paul Taylor