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Curtain up at the new look Assembly Rooms Theatre

If you’ve been on the Bailey at all over the past year, you might have noticed the building site opposite Hatfield, well the time has come… The Assembly Rooms Theatre is reopening! In preparation for our Open Day this Saturday, theatre Staff members, the Durham Student Theatre (DST) exec and student volunteers have been giving up their time over the past weeks and months to get everything ready – I myself have been building IKEA furniture so watch out for those bar stools!

The 190 seat theatre is the home of Durham Student Theatre (DST) and I’m so excited that this space is re-opening and will once again be facilitating the amazing shows created by students. We have over 800 members and all have the opportunity to get involved with around 90 shows happening throughout the year.

The huge range of shows we have lined up is amazing! Currently we have a mix of student and professional shows programmed: just this term we have Musicals (both Improvised and Sondheim), Comedy (of the Sketch variety and English Farce) and retellings of The Ramayana and The story of Salome from Mark’s Gospel, with many more exciting things to come throughout the year! This wide array of shows and styles is really great because it caters for everyone, performers, theatre makers and, of course, the audiences.

Take a look at what’s on here

Loads of opportunities, and not just on the stage

Now we have regained the use of this brilliant space, it’s opening up so many opportunities for DST members. Students can get involved in all levels of running the Assembly Rooms – not just acting! Production teams are the people that put the background leg work into creating the show. These are comprised of Directors, Producers, Choreographers, Technical directors. The latter is backed up by a team of technicians that focus on specific aspects of production: sound and light design, operators, stage managers. Larger productions also have costume designers, people who are in charge of props, stagehands – all sorts! A new addition as part of the refurbishment is ‘The Round’ DST’s very own bar, and our new box office, we have teams of box office and bar supervisors that are supported by volunteers that are in charge of making sure all our facilities run smoothly they also sell tickets, sweets and the all-important interval ice creams.

A building as historic as the Assembly Rooms isn’t without its traditions as well. Each show is given a section of wall and is given free rein to decorate it as they wish. This is my favourite part of backstage because it means that every show then becomes part of the fabric of the theatre and it’s a lovely reminder of just how many people benefit from the venue.

After months of prep with so many people putting so much work into making this happen, it’s really rewarding to see it all coming together. The reopening is such an exciting thing to be a part of and I’d like to thank everyone that’s contributed to making this happen!

Take a look for yourself!

Visit the theatre to take a guided tour behind the scenes and see for yourself the completed redevelopment work. The year-long restoration project has included making parts of the 190-seat venue more accessible to wheelchair users, creating a modern theatre venue in a historic setting.

This unique opportunity will allow you to be amongst the first to view the refurbished Box Office area and 150 year old theatre’s original ceiling restored to its former glory. The renovated venue also includes improvements to the workshop areas, dressing room and toilet facilities to make the theatre more user friendly for performers and audiences.

Free Open Mic Night 

The Open Day will be followed by a free ‘Open Mic Night’ from 7.30 pm, where the audience can enjoy comedy, music and dance from some of Durham University’s talented student performers.

Alice Aucott

Hiya! I’m Alice, an English Student at Collingwood College with an interest in intersectionality and American culture. Outside of my degree, I’m DST President which takes up a lot of my time (in the best way) and can be found producing shows left right and centre!
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