New Theatre Royal Portsmouth, United Kingdom

Reuniting a beautiful historic auditorium with a new playing stage house

The theatre lost its flytower in 1972 in a fire. Since then it has had used a thrust stage form within the heritage auditorium to continue presenting performances albeit with limited seating capacity.
The University wanted to unify their accommodation for creative and cultural industries and offered to purchase some of the theatre land on which to build it. So a synergetic relationship arose which would offer a unique combination of spaces for arts students at Portsmouth: the crucible of spaces would allow the university not only to expand their Creative Arts provision but also to develop a coherent media production centre. For the NTR it will serve to attract national and international companies and increase their participation programme.

New Theatre Royal, Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth, United Kingdom
New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth, UK.
Penoyre & Prasad

New Theatre Royal




New Theatre Royal Conception

By thinking ahead and designing the levels of the new building to link with the existing Grade II* listed building enables the crossing from one to the other much more inclusive. Building a new foyer and entrance to the site for the University enables the wheelchair users to go to theatre balconies previously out of reach.

The theatre is a rare example of a Phipps/Matcham design. Using the stalls rakes of the original theatre, AMPC set out the new flat stage height (not raked like the original) which determined the heights of the floors throughout the site.

New Theatre Royal Gestation

Working with Penoyre and Prasad, AMPC developed the layout of the flytower, the backstage accommodation and the technical infrastructure that could be designed within the budget. The stalls seating was re-laid out and the seating capacity increased to 700.

Allowance was made in the structural loading of the building and the electrical power for increased facilities for the longer term.

Meticulous inter-design team detailing resulted in acoustical isolation of the stage house from the nearby Guildhall bells being achieved.

New Theatre Royal Birth

The theatre undertook to complete the auditorium installation, recycling seats to a new layout and reinstating the original balcony boxes.

The fire curtain and house curtain and pelmet were part of the technical installation.

On opening night in Autumn 2015, dancers were in the street, a festive atmosphere was created in the foyer and new bar and local patrons were thrilled that the sleeping beauty theatre was awake again. The theatre is developing its distinctive character and is a focal point in a part of Portsmouth currently being revitalised.