“The Georgian theatre was one of the vital periods of our artistic history; and these buildings, with their intimacy and their sense of human proportion are masterpieces. Bury’s Theatre Royal is perhaps even more precious than we think.”
Sir Peter Hall CBE
In September 2005 the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds was closed to begin a £5.3 million restoration project to restore the building to its original 1819 configuration and decorative scheme. Following an extensive research period, architect Levitt Bernstein, in collaboration with Theatre staff and the National Trust, drew up plans to restore the historic building to as close to its original design as possible.
Previous restorations to the building had removed the original Georgian entrances to the pit as well as its distinctive Georgian forestage. The boxes had also been removed from the dress circle and the seating layout changed throughout the building.
The project restored these aspects to recreate a theatre which could provide further insight into the architecture, stage techniques and repertoire of the 18th and 19th centuries, of which little is known in comparison to theatre of other epochs. In addition to the restoration of the building the Theatre’s artistic team researched and re-discovered many of the lost texts, of the Georgian repertoire.
Under the banner of Restoring the Repertoire© the Theatre Royal aimed to produce some of the plays of the Georgian period in the restored Theatre.
The Theatre re-opened on 11 September 2007 with a production of the 1829 nautical melodrama, Black Eyed Susan, written by Douglas Jerrold.
As well as the restoration work carried out on the Theatre itself, a new foyer building was created. Adjoining the Theatre, it provides extra circulation space for audiences as well as improved bar and catering facilities.