Kenilworth theatre’s long-overdue refurb almost finished

The stage being prepared for The Crucible by volunteers
The stage being prepared for The Crucible by volunteers

A popular Kenilworth theatre’s long-overdue refurbishment to make audiences a lot more comfortable while watching a show is almost finished.

Talisman Theatre in Barrow Road has been open since 1969, and has grown its audience considerably since then.

But many of the theatre’s committee felt audiences were being made to sit in uncomfortable temperatures due to the building’s poor insulation.

Publicity manager John Francis said: “We’ve had decades of our audience freezing in winter and sweltering in summer.”

The committee decided to spend £75,000 of the theatre’s own money to address the problem.

During a particularly cold snap in February and March 2013 takings plummeted due to the cold air.

Theatre chairman Nigel Elliot said; “We pride ourselves on the productions we put on but we would look around and see that people are enjoying the show but we’re not making it comfortable.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re looking after our audiences.”

Now, brand new air conditioning units have been installed in the auditorium, rehearsal studio and dressing room to help keep temperatures at more comfortable levels.

And the theatre’s bar and toilets are all undergoing a refurbishment.

The aim is to have the theatre ready in time for the first performance of Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ on Saturday September 30.

Although the temperature problems had persisted for quite some time, the committee held off improving the building because of plans to build a new theatre that Talisman could use by Kenilworth Library, mooted as far back as 2003.

But since a new theatre has yet to be built, the committee decided enough was enough and put money down to pay for improvements.

Nigel said he was ‘delighted’ the work had finally started.

While contractors have done a lot of the heavy work, much of the lighter work, such as painting, has been done by volunteers.

Many have been involved with Talisman Theatre for a very long time.

One volunteer, John Ellam, who has helped design more than 100 sets for performances at the theatre since 1971, said he was looking forward to the ‘much-needed’ work finishing.

And fellow volunteer Clive Taylor said he enjoyed volunteering as he got to work with people who he liked.

Nigel added: “If we didn’t have a core of volunteers we’d be in serious trouble.”