Southampton's Nuffield Theatre (NST) first opened at the University of Southampton in 1963 and it has been a major hub for touring shows, amateur productions and the theatre's own adult and youth theatre companies. In 2018, NST will be opening a second theatre as part of Southampton's new Arts Centre: Studio 144 at 144 Above Barr Street. The new NST City will officially open with the world premiere of Howard Brenton's The Shadow Factory on February 15th 2018.
The new complex will house two new performance spaces. The main house theatre is a 450-seat venue, while the smaller studio will provide a spot for more intimate performances with just 133 seats. There are also screening facilities, workshop spaces and large rehearsal room. The larger Studio 144 complex will also house a new city branch of the John Hansard Gallery as well as the City Eye, a digital media organisation responsible for Southampton Film Week.
Like the original campus theatre, NST City will have its own restaurant partner offering pre and post-show dining options. Tyrells gets its name from the Tyrell and Green department store that stood at the same 144 Above Barr Street location for 100 years. The menu isn't announced, but there will be a restaurant, café and bar offering a range of choices whether you're after a coffee and cake after a matinee or a romantic dinner to end date night at the theatre.
The new theatre not only means more opportunities for more shows and a greater variety of arts reaching a wider audience, but it's also extending some of the existing programs. Many shows making up part of the Saturday children's theatre 2018 program will also be performed at the new NST City on Sundays. The Saturday children's theatre gives families and young children an affordable option to experience the world of theatre, and the new theatre gives the opportunity to double the opportunities for families.
To spread the world about the theatre's opening, the university has started a social media campaign inspired by the Shadow Factory. They're asking theatre aficionados to share their 'Southampton Can Do It!' posters with the added hashtag #southamptoncandoit. The Shadow Factory is set during World War II and recognises the work of the people left at home during the war, focussing on the production of the famous Spitfire war planes in Southampton. These sorts of posters were popular propaganda during the war, with one of the most famous posters being J. Howard Miller's 'Rosie the Riveter' poster, featuring a strong lady in a headscarf and overalls with the phrase 'We Can Do It!'.
For a look at what to expect from the new NST City, you can check out some of their upcoming shows, or stay tuned to their website for updates and progress reports on how the new theatre is coming along. Tickets for the Shadow Factory opening night on February 15th have sold out, but there are plenty more available for other dates and the NST City theatres will have many more shows to catch once they open their doors.