On 4th October 2011, The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury opened its doors for the first time following a multi-million pound redevelopment, which saw the demolition of the old theatre and the construction of two new auditoria – a main house and a state of the art studio space. Since then it has been transformed into one of the country’s most successful regional venues with a rich and acclaimed performance calendar and a programme of creative activity that serves the whole community of Canterbury and beyond.
To celebrate the anniversary the theatre is staging Marlowe 5 – two days of festivities over the weekend of October 8th and 9th, which culminates in a Gala performance on the evening of October 9th. This will comprise performances from the National Theatre (War Horse), The Royal Shakespeare Company (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Northern Ballet (Jane Eyre), and Zoo Nation Youth Company. Also in the line up are the Philharmonia, The Marlowe’s resident orchestra, poet Lemn Sissay, and scenes from West End musicals Chicago and The Bodyguard. Pantomime will be represented by Ben Roddy, who is the evening’s host as well as Stephen Mulhern, Phil Gallagher, and Shaun Williamson.
Marlowe Theatre Director, Mark Everett says: “The evening will reflect some of the stunning companies and artists who have been part of the first five years in our new home – and there’s still more to come! I’m thrilled and I’m sure the audience will be as well.”
The weekend of Marlowe 5 will also provide a series of free entertainment and events in and around the Canterbury venue, including workshops, tours (with an audio-described tour, and a signed tour), street theatre and music. The programme will include two exciting new productions co-created by The Marlowe Theatre. Mobile is an inventive show about class, family, aspiration and belonging, and takes place in a caravan. Performed to an audience of just eight people at a time, it is based on personal testimonies collected in community workshops in Kent and elsewhere. Created by renowned theatre company The Paper Birds, Mobile will take place on The Marlowe forecourt.
A group of local artists, young people, and world-famous poet and writer Lemn Sissay present an original installation in The Marlowe Studio in collaboration with Wise Words Festival. Warrior Poets will feature work from children in care in Kent whose poems have inspired an immersive installation, along with a headline performance from Lemn on the Sunday.
The weekend also offers the chance for customers to win a luxury holiday in Mauritius, courtesy of Kuoni Travel, Canterbury, as part of a prize draw. Anyone buying tickets for Marlowe Theatre shows (including the gala performance) can also buy a ticket to enter the draw to win the week for two in Mauritius. The prize includes flights and transfers, and half-board accommodation in a superior room. There are selected dates, and the holiday must be taken by 30 April 2017. Tickets for the prize draw cost £2 and are unlimited.
Since opening on 4th October 2011, The Marlowe has become one of this country’s most successful regional venues and brought some of the world’s greatest theatre companies to Kent. These include the National Theatre, the RSC, Glyndebourne (opera), Matthew Bourne (dance) and the Philharmonia (orchestra).
The Marlowe Studio has also gone from strength to strength, and now has a highly-regarded programme of contemporary theatre, comedy and music, providing vital opportunities for aspiring writers and makers of new theatre. Linked to this are The Marlowe’s own productions and co-productions.
Over the last five years, The Marlowe Theatre has developed its programme of creative activity, and now offers classes for all ages in theatre, playwriting and dance. Participants are able to take part in The Marlowe’s annual community production.
The Marlowe works with hundreds of schoolchildren every year, some with leading arts organisations such as the RSC. The theatre’s trainee schemes have so far given 15 young people the opportunity to develop successful careers in the industry.
The Marlowe Theatre Development Trust (a registered charity which raised more than £4.28 million towards building the new theatre), have granted more than £500,000 to support the work of the theatre’s creative projects team, including the Marlowe Youth Theatre Bursary Fund.
The Marlowe is well on the way to becoming self-financing and its figures testify the financial benefits it brings to Canterbury both in terms of trade to suppliers, local retailers and restaurants and the employment opportunities it provides to the city and outlying areas.
2014/15 was The Marlowe’s best year, thanks to an exceptional end-of-financial year (Shrek, Jeeves and Wooster, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas).
The Marlowe Theatre
The Friars, Canterbury CT1 2AS