Courtyard Redevelops as Part of King's Cross PlanDate: 7 March 2002
The fringe Courtyard Theatre this week completes five weeks of construction work which marks the first phase of a major redevelopment, both of the theatre itself and the King's Cross area of London where it's located.
The long-term plan is to relaunch the Courtyard as a comprehensive arts complex with jazz, cabaret and conference facilities as well as bar and restaurant, in addition to the existing 100-seat theatre auditorium and the professional training school. As part of the plan, the theatre will expand to three times its current size.
To date, £80,000 has been raised for the Courtyard project. A gala to raise further funds is being held on 29 April and will be attended by former Culture secretary Chris Smith MP. The theatre's redevelopment is part of the ambitious King's Cross redevelopment project, to transform the traditionally poor and crime-ridden pocket around the King's Cross rail station into a thriving pedestrianised area with bars, restaurants and other attractions. More than £35 million is being invested in the area over a seven-year period which ends in 2003.
The Courtyard sees itself at the cultural heart of these urban regeneration plans, and admits that it's been spurred on by the success of the Almeida Theatre, which has been residing in a converted bus shelter nearby while its permanent Islington home bas is being refurbished. The presence of the Almeida has attracted hordes of theatregoers, journalists and others who would not normally frequent the area.
Commenting on the Courtyard's redevelopment, Chris Smith said: "I'm delighted to see the future of this excellent performance space secured and enhanced; I believe it to be a key element in helping to give a lively and lived-in 'feel' to the regenerated area."
The first phase of construction on the Courtyard has consisted of installing a new glass frontage (pictured) and a redesigned and refurbished theatre foyer and bar. Founded 13 years ago on the site of a former stables yard, the Courtyard was the first professional theatre in the UK to establish its own training school, which takes in some 25 acting apprentices each year.
For more information, please visit the theatre website.
- by Terri Paddock