Lace Market Theatre
City Centre, Nottingham
|Owner||The Lace Market Theatre Trust Ltd.|
|Designation||Grade II Listed Building|
|Capacity||118 auditorium, 50 studio|
The Lace Market Theatre Trust developed from two amateur dramatic societies founded in Nottingham in the 1920s – the Nottingham Playgoers Club  and the Nottingham Philodramatic Society . These amalgamated in 1946 to become the Nottingham Theatre Club and were based from 1946 to 1951 at the Nottingham Bluecoat School.
Hutchison Street: 1951 - 1972
In 1951 the Nottingham Theatre Club moved to leased premises in Hutchinson Street which were much closer to the city centre. They stayed there until 1972, when they left as part of the major slum clearance and redevelopment of the city during that decade. It was at this point that the members raised the money to buy an old dilapidated paint store in the Lace Market area of the city.
Tight funds meant that most of the conversion had to be carried out by the members themselves in their spare time. But what emerged was an auditorium seating 118 and space in the upstairs bar for studio performances for smaller audiences. All this was achieved in the space of a year. The aim was, and has remained to put on plays that were challenging for actors and the technical crews and ones which otherwise people would have to go to London to see.
Training by doing was always a part of the club and the concept of small-scale productions in the bar area where first time directors could cut their teeth were introduced. These productions were known as "Fents" in homage to the textile history of the Lace Market area.
In 1977, the opportunity arose to acquire more land and it was decided that, to facilitate fund raising, the Lace Market Theatre Trust should be formed. £40,000 was raised for a three-storey extension at the rear and a further £40,000 was raised for its completion in 1984. The building was owned by the Trust and the Nottingham Theatre Club rented it from them.
While the Nottingham Theatre Club continued the policy of challenging drama, the trust began furthering the educational responsibilities of a charity by giving grants to students who were going on to drama school. At that point in time, drama students were only able to apply for discretionary grants from the LEA and these were in short supply.
By the year 2000 the Nottingham Theatre Club were again beginning to feel cramped. The extensive wardrobe moved into rented premises, first in St. Mary's Gate and then in Stoney Street in the heart of the Lace Market District. The Theatre is well known for its heavily subscribed, well run youth theatre having won many awards at the NANDA festival over the past few years.
The Nottingham Theatre Club merged into the Lace Market Theatre Trust in 2003. New development plans are under way with the aim of creating a landmark amateur theatre for the region.
Shortly after the completion of the extension in 1984, Prunella Scales and Timothy West were invited to become patrons of the theatre and this they both agreed to do. In 2012 Matthew Macfadyen and Keeley Hawes also agreed to become patrons of the theatre. Before her death, Joyce Redman had been a patron for many years.
The Lace Market Theatre has been twinned with the Jakobus Theatre and Die Kaeuze in Germany since 1982. The theatres currently take it in turns to take one production every other year to the other. The Lace Market Theatre hosts both German theatres across two weeks in one year, then, two years later, the two German theatres host one production each over one week.
Notes and references
- Charity Commission - charity number 506730
- BBC - Nottingham - Entertainment - Lace Market Theatre redevelopment planned
- Nottinghamshire: history and archaeology | An Itinerary of Nottingham: Halifax Place
- Lace Market Theatre - LACE MARKET THEATRE LAUNCHES £3MILLION APPEAL FUND TO CREATE A NATIONAL LANDMARK AMATEUR THEATRE
- Patrons Archived 2007-06-22 at the Wayback Machine
- Jakobustheater in der Fabrik: Über uns Archived 2008-04-08 at the Wayback Machine