Assembly Rooms Theatre, 40 North Bailey, Durham, DH1 3ET – Visit Now
In the heart of Durham, a stone’s throw from the cathedral, is Assembly Rooms Theatre. This historic building showcases theatre throughout the year and specialises in creating a body of plays and works as well by hosting touring shows throughout the year. The building itself started as a ballroom for the entertainment of Durham’s population. As any fans of period drama know, this would have been a key location for the social life of the town during the period. It only became a theatre in 1869 after the old Theatre Royal in Durham burnt down in a fire. Its first performance was Il Travatore – The Troubadour – a very energetic and flamboyant play with a lot of enjoyable happenstance and weird occurrences. This energy has continued to be a part of the theatre’s history as Durham’s Amateur Operatic Group moved in and showcased HMS Pinafore as their first performance. The theatre also hosted ‘The Great Train Robbery’ believed to be the first film shown in Durham City. This entertainment history means that the Assembly Rooms aim to produce the best new entertainment it can.
Following renovations in the 1950’s, 2007-2009 and, most recently, the £2.4 million Durham University funded renovation, the theatre has been renovated to become a 175-seater theatre and a large part of the city’s arts and performance life. Now with modern disability access for the building and auditorium as well as fully refurbished dressing rooms, box office and toilets, the theatre is ready to provide entrainment in the heart of Durham for a long time to come. Today the theatre is home of Durham Student Theatre with students learning the art of acting as well as putting on their own shows. The theatre is also home to two other companies, with those being Elysium Theatre Company and Grim Up North, both creating their own brand of entertainment from the theatre. Taking in a show at the Assembly Rooms is well worth your time, from the history of the building through to the new shows being created within.