The wait to see the newly refurbished Sherman Cymru building is nearly over and the public will be able to see the changes for themselves when the two auditorium venue is open to the public for the first time on Saturday 4 February and the Sherman Cymru team welcomes back audiences to their home for Open House.
Sherman Cymru closed its doors in February 2010 for a major refurbishment that includes a new exterior, totally redesigned foyer space, public areas and access. There are also improvements to rehearsal rooms and backstage areas, new seating for Theatre 1, enhanced electrics and ventilation and a dedicated room for new work and new writing.
The architect for the project is Jonathan Adams from Capita Symonds. Adams also designed the iconic Wales Millennium Centre and WJEC buildings.
Director Chris Ricketts said “Jonathan Adams has cleverly combined areas of new build with older parts of structure, transforming the building and giving us an inviting social space offering excellent and accessible facilities. Sherman Cymru has a special role in Wales to commission and develop work from the rich pool of Welsh writers and this next step in our history will be all about producing and presenting great theatre, telling stories that have a real resonance for the widest possible audience. Our commitment to both English and Welsh language theatre and participatory events for young people continues and Sherman Cymru will be a special place to be for years to come”.
The Sherman Cymru team as a whole is looking forward to reopening and realising the plans that have been in development over the last two years.
Marina Newth, Theatre Manager said “We are looking forward to everyone being able to enjoy their surroundings and the new facilities when they visit Sherman Cymru. We have always been very proud of the productions and activities that take place here. We are always thinking ahead to how we can provide the best experience for our audiences, artists and project participants and now we will have a building to match our ambitions.”
Emma Goad is Sherman Cymru’s Head of Development who has managed the capital campaign to raise money towards the total refurbishment cost of 6.5 million pounds. Donations and money raised have been added to the Arts Council of Wales funding of 4.6 million and £180,000 from the Welsh Assembly Government. With actors Sian Phillips and Matthew Rhys pledging their support behind Sherman Cymru to help raise the profile of the campaign, Emma Goad continues her work to raise further funds and increase the public’s opportunities to contribute and make a difference to the future of Sherman Cymru.
She said “It is wonderful for us to be able to offer a package of experiences and opportunities for people to be able to be a part of Sherman Cymru. Sherman Cymru is part of Cardiff and Wales’s rich cultural landscape and when we reopen we will be able to meet the high expectations of people in our communities.”
Nick Capaldi, Chief Executive Arts Council of Wales said: "Sherman Cymru’s contribution to the cultural life of Wales is longstanding and well established. We're delighted to have made this significant investment of funding in the theatre's future. Sherman Cymru is already one of the country's most important theatre producers and now it has the quality of facilities to match. This major redevelopment gives the capital city of Wales' only producing theatre something of which we can all be proud."
Sian Summers and Phil Mackenzie, Heads of The Literary Team and Creative Learning Team will also reap the rewards of the redesign in their roles to develop Welsh writers and writers based in Wales and to engage with the public through imaginative and original ventures.
Phil Mackenzie said “After two years out of our building we look forward to opening our doors again to our vibrant Youth Theatre, making drama in our much improved larger rehearsal spaces, creating special events in our foyer and welcoming back our communities and creative friends for new adventures and experiences'.
The Open House Day will be the public’s first chance to see Sherman Cymru when it opens its doors at 9.45am on Saturday 4 February. Daytime activities will run until 5pm. There will be an opportunity to go on a tour of the theatre whilst hearing playing from wandering musicians who will be performing throughout the day.
Families are very welcome and there are activities to keep people of all ages entertained with storytelling sessions in both Welsh and English at 10.45am, 12.45pm and 2.45pm. There will also be Puppet Making and Moving workshops where children and their families can create their own puppets and learn how to manipulate them) at 10.30am - 12.30pm. There will also be drop in Circus sessions 2pm – 5pm with Nofit State Circus.
For very young children 4 - 9 years old, there will be Sherman Sherbets drama experience taster sessions held at 2pm and 3pm.
For those who want to catch some performance in action, The Last Supper of the Ghosts of the Sherman will offer a special Theatre 2 experience created by Phil Mackenzie, an extended 6 hour improvisation from 11am - 5pm with performers from Sherman Cymru's Youth Theatre, Company 4.
The evening will have a different flavour with live music from musicians 9 Bach and Amy Wadge and Pete Riley from 7.30pm with the café bar being open late into the evening.