The New Theatre itself was converted from the Engineering block in 1969. Originally, the auditorium was levelled but raked seating and a proscenium arch stage were in place by 1972. The New Theatre’s colours are currently orange and purple – then, the auditorium was meticulously finished with kingfisher blue paintwork and matching canvas curtains. Classy stuff. The very first refurbishment of the auditorium occurred only one year after this, in the summer of 1973, when students installed a new lining of timber slats, a cloakroom area at the rear and locations for fire extinguishers. They also alterted the colour scheme to chocolate brown…arguably not a refreshing change from kingfisher blue, but no doubt much more practical! In 06/07 the black swirly logo was dropped for yellow/orange squares. In 07/08 they became orange/purple and in 09/10 they were neatened up in a brand overhaul. In 10/11 a ‘banner’ system was introduced to ensure that every poster was clearly associated to the New Theatre. In 11/12 the black banner changed to a predominantly purple one, keeping with the theme of our orange and purple colours, but also meaning the banner was much more eye-catching.
As far as tech goes, there have, unsurprisingly, been many changes in this department. The technical rig consisted of a FURSE 24 channel resistance dimmer bank with mechanical mastering; the control room swiftly turned into a sauna when anything other than full output was required. A Rank Strand thyristor dimmer board was installed in the summer of 1972 – apparently the committee at that time got a good price for it, as it was their last design using Germanium semi-conductors and was wired to about 48 channels. At the same time, the control room was rebuilt by members of Tech Committee with a new sound system and twin reel-to-reel tape recorder decks.
In autumn 1999 tech underwent a massive refurbishment: old lights were resurrected and the kit available to the New Theatre was more than doubled. This was also the time when the smoke detectors were replaced with heat sensors to allow the use of smoke effects during productions.
The new foyer was probably built around 1996, but looks to have had a makeover in 2001 after an appeal and a large donation from a fellow called Wallner. Before the foyer existed, tickets were sold to people from the small box office window, which was the main office at the time, and then the audience stood outside in the cold or heat and waited for the doors to open. This system was so inefficient that only a few years after the theatre was opened, advance tickets were being sold from the Portland building instead, taking the control away from The New Theatre where it belonged.
This method of ticket selling was short lived, and soon turned to the method of reserving tickets via each individual show’s producer by including their number on the poster. In 2010 the ticketing process got another overhaul. The New Theatre set up, in conjunction with the SU website, the opportunity to reserve tickets online for the first time ever. Now in 2011 the box office options have become ‘BUY’ tickets online from the SU website, reserve via our Box Office number: 07428 441678, or Box Office email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The history of our beloved New Theatre is set to change again soon! In the very near future we will be getting a completely new and updated building, much to the thanks of the ‘Impact Nottingham Campaign’ which is aiming to raise money from businesses and Nottingham Alumni to help with the development of a number of key projects happening within the University of Nottingham. The New Theatre is proud to claim that it is the ONLY student based project to be included, which really highlights just how important this little gem of a theatre is for all those who pass through the University. The final details on the new building will be announced relatively soon so keep an ear out for any further information.
If anyone would like the job of researching New Theatre history please e-mail our Secretary at: email@example.com.
Note to alumni
Please send in any information you have about New Theatre history for a timeline that will eventually be published here. Information about plays, committees, major decisions / changes / renovations / moments you consider to’ve been historical.
Sincere thanks to Tony and Lynn Ireland (Business Managers of DramaSoc, 1972-74) and Adam Godden (NT member 1999-2002) for their contributions to this page.
Send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org