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Theatres in Exeter

theatres in exeter

The Variety of Theatres in Exeter

Exeter boasts a rich variety of theatres, each with its own unique charm and personality. From the historic Exeter Northcott Theatre, known for its diverse range of performances including plays, music, and dance, to the Barnfield Theatre, a thriving community space showcasing local talent and productions, there is something for every theatre enthusiast in this vibrant city.

For those seeking a more intimate setting, the Cygnet Theatre offers a cozy atmosphere for enjoying classical and contemporary plays, while the Bike Shed Theatre provides a platform for innovative and experimental performances. Whether you’re in the mood for a Shakespearean tragedy or a cutting-edge contemporary piece, the theatres in Exeter cater to a wide range of tastes and preferences, ensuring that there is always something new and exciting to experience on stage.

This guide does not place the theatres in any particular order, but gives you an idea about the many different places available to enjoy the thrill of live entertainment as one of the many things you can do in Exeter.


Barnfield Theatre

barnfield theatre exeter

Nestled in the heart of Exeter, the Barnfield Theatre boasts a rich history of entertaining locals. Originally built in the late 19th century as the Barnfield Hall by the Exeter Literary Society, it transformed into a dedicated theatre space in 1972. Now under the management of the Exeter Northcott Theatre, the Barnfield continues to be a vibrant hub for the community.

The centerpiece of the Barnfield is the main auditorium, recently refurbished with comfortable tiered seating offering clear sightlines of the stage. Equipped with professional lighting and sound, the space is perfect for theatrical productions, but its versatility extends to conferences, lectures, and exhibitions. The Clifford Room provides a more intimate setting, functioning as a studio theatre or additional conference space.

The Barnfield takes pride in its commitment to showcasing local talent. Alongside professional productions, the stage regularly welcomes amateur societies and community groups. This dedication to local talent extends to the audience, fostering a welcoming atmosphere that makes every visit special.

There is a really diverse offering her. One night you might be captivated by a local play, while the next could feature a visiting musical act. The Barnfield Theatre offers something for everyone, making it a cornerstone of Exeter’s cultural scene.


Northcott Theatre

northcott theatre exeter

Standing tall on the University of Exeter’s campus, the Northcott Theatre is a beacon of professional theatre in the southwest of England. Opened in 1967, the Northcott was the brainchild of visionary director John Bury, aiming to bring high-quality productions to the region. Over the years, it has become a celebrated venue, nurturing local talent and attracting renowned companies.

Stepping inside the Northcott is like entering a world of creative energy. The main auditorium, boasts a thrust stage, placing the audience right in the heart of the action. Its intimate setup fosters a sense of connection between performers and viewers, creating a wonderfully immersive experience. The theatre also houses the studio space, the Stage One, perfect for smaller-scale productions and experimental works.

The Northcott’s program reflects its commitment to artistic diversity. A typical season might see a new play by a rising playwright alongside a classic by Shakespeare or Tennessee Williams. The theatre also champions contemporary dance and physical theatre, showcasing innovative and thought-provoking works.

Beyond its main stage productions, the Northcott extends its reach through a range of initiatives. The theatre runs a thriving education program, offering workshops and masterclasses for aspiring actors and theatre practitioners. It also actively seeks to engage with the Exeter community, hosting discussions and talks that delve deeper into the world of theatre and its themes.

Whether you’re a seasoned theatregoer or a curious newcomer, the Northcott Theatre offers a welcoming space to experience the magic of live performance. With its commitment to artistic excellence and community engagement, it remains a driving force for the cultural life of Exeter.


Cygnet Theatre

cygnet theatre

In Exeter’s historic quayside district, the Cygnet Theatre occupies a unique space. Established in 1980, it’s not just a performance venue, but also the heart of the Cygnet Training Theatre. Here, aspiring actors embark on a rigorous three-year program, honing their craft under the guidance of experienced professionals.

The Cygnet Theatre itself is a lovely, intimate space, fostering a close connection between audience and performers. Imagine a cozy room buzzing with creative energy, where every rustle of a costume and whispered line feels amplified. This intimacy allows for a truly immersive experience, drawing you into the heart of the drama.

Productions at the Cygnet Theatre reflect this focus on nurturing new talent. The stage showcases a mix of classical, modern, and even brand new works. Expect to see Shakespearean comedies with a contemporary twist alongside captivating modern dramas or the world premiere of a promising playwright’s work. Occasionally, the Cygnet also hosts musical events, bringing a touch of melody to the stage.

The Cygnet Theatre isn’t just about polished productions; it’s a platform for experimentation and discovery. Here, you might encounter student actors pushing boundaries or witness the birth of a groundbreaking theatrical concept. The atmosphere is electric, charged with the raw energy of young talent finding their voice.

Whether you’re seeking a classic play reimagined or a glimpse into the future of theatre, the Cygnet Theatre offers a vibrant and constantly evolving experience. It’s a place to witness the magic of theatre being created, nurtured, and shared.


Phoenix Arts Centre

exeter phoenix arts centre

Exeter’s Phoenix Arts Centre isn’t your typical theatre venue. It’s a vibrant explosion of artistic expression. Founded in 1999, the Phoenix champions artistic diversity, offering a kaleidoscope of experiences under one roof.

Step inside the Phoenix and prepare to be dazzled. Art galleries showcase contemporary exhibitions, their walls adorned with thought-provoking paintings, sculptures, and installations. Meanwhile, the Studio 74 cinema, Exeter’s only solar-powered cinema, screens a carefully curated selection of independent films, documentaries, and film festivals.

But the Phoenix isn’t just about visual arts. The large auditorium throbs with live music, hosting everything from up-and-coming local bands to established touring artists. The space readily transforms for theatrical productions, stand-up comedy nights, and even film screenings. Beyond the stage, workshops and courses buzz with creative energy, offering anyone the chance to explore their artistic side – from filmmaking to printmaking.

So, whether you’re a seasoned art aficionado or simply curious about exploring your creative side, the Phoenix Arts Centre offers a dynamic and welcoming space. It’s a place where artistic boundaries blur, and the unexpected becomes part of the experience.


Exeter Corn Exchange

exeter corn exchange

Exeter’s Corn Exchange isn’t a theatre in the traditional sense, but it’s a vital centre for entertainment and events in the heart of the city. Built in 1960, it replaced an earlier structure that served as both a corn market and a social venue. Today, the Corn Exchange continues this tradition of bringing people together, albeit in a more contemporary way.

Imagine a grand, light-filled hall with a sprung wooden floor – perfect for everything from bustling conferences to exhilarating dance performances. The Corn Exchange boasts state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, allowing it to host a diverse range of events. One day you might be captivated by a live music concert, the next by a comedy night filled with laughter.

Beyond large-scale performances, the Corn Exchange offers a variety of smaller function rooms. These spaces cater to exhibitions, business meetings, wedding receptions, and even private parties. The flexibility allows the venue to cater to the needs of the community, from local businesses to social groups.

Stepping into the Corn Exchange, you’ll find a welcoming atmosphere. The on-site cafe offers refreshments before or after an event, and the spacious foyer provides a place to mingle and chat. The venue actively works to be inclusive, ensuring accessibility for all.

Exeter Corn Exchange might not be a dedicated theatre, but it’s a vibrant hub where the community comes together to experience a variety of entertainment. It’s a testament to the city’s love for culture and its ability to reinvent historic spaces for modern life.


Curtain Up! Tips for Enjoying Your Trip to the Theatre

Going to the theatre offers a unique blend of live performance, storytelling, and shared experience. To fully immerse yourself in the magic, here are some tips to ensure a delightful visit:

Preparation is Key:

  • Do your research: Read about the play or musical beforehand. Knowing the plot, characters, and historical context can significantly enhance your enjoyment.
  • Dress comfortably: Opt for clothing that allows you to relax and focus on the performance. Check the venue’s dress code if unsure, but remember, comfort is key.
  • Plan your arrival: Allow ample time for travel, parking (if driving), and collecting tickets. Arriving early allows you to use the toilet, grab a drink, and settle in before the show starts.

Etiquette for a Smooth Experience:

  • Silence is golden: Once the performance begins, silence is essential. Avoid rustling programs, unwrapping snacks, or using electronic devices.
  • Respect fellow audience members: Unnecessary talking, coughing loudly, or blocking someone’s view can disrupt the experience for others.
  • Applause: Applaud at the end of acts and particularly moving scenes. A standing ovation can be a powerful way to show your appreciation for the performance.

Enhancing Your Experience:

  • Engage your senses: Let the sights, sounds, and atmosphere of the theatre transport you. Pay attention to the set design, costumes, lighting, and the actors’ performances.
  • Embrace the unexpected: Live theatre is dynamic. Actors might improvise, or technical hiccups could occur. Relax, and enjoy the unique performance unfolding before you.
  • Discuss and share: After the show, chat with friends about your thoughts and reactions. Discussing the themes, performances, and your interpretations can deepen your understanding and appreciation.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a memorable and enriching visit to the theatre. So, grab your tickets, get ready to be transported, and let the curtain rise on a night of entertainment! As you can seem there are many options for great theatres in Exeter, so have a brilliant time and enjoy!

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