The Little Theatre Gateshead has got BIGGER! 'The Studio' rehearsal room is now officially open.

Following a successful fundraising campaign, for which we won an award, work to build a new rehearsal room above the current auditorium is now complete and the new room was officially opened in October 2021. This new facility has exactly the same dimensions as the main auditorium stage meaning the transfer from rehearsals to final production is much smoother than was previously possible.

Date Work Progress
December 2020 Install new stair lift COMPLETED
January 2021 Contractors arrive on site, set up compound, office and welfare areas COMPLETED
  Erection of scaffolding COMPLETED
February Weatherproof tent installed COMPLETED  
  Existing roof removed COMPLETED  
March Underpinning of existing theatre structure COMPLETED
  Strengthening Avenue Road external wall COMPLETED
April Structural steelwork installed COMPLETED
  Extension to bar stairs COMPLETED
May Reinstate Auditorium COMPLETED
  Rehearsal room concrete floor laid COMPLETED
  Lightweight steel structure installed COMPLETED
  New spiral staircase installed COMPLETED
June Plasterboard installed COMPLETED
  Doorway to No 3 stairs COMPLETED
July Scaffolding removedCOMPLETED  
  Mechanical and Electrical work complete COMPLETED
  Acoustic flooring installed COMPLETED
August Decorating COMPLETED
  Snagging COMPLETED
  Completion of toilets COMPLETED
  Cleaning and final handover COMPLETED

The building project was undertaken whilst the theatre was temporarily closed due to the Covid pandemic meaning disruption was minimal.

The new rehearsal space is acoustically isolated from the auditorium and stage allowing rehearsals to proceed even during a performance with an audience and avoids the need to hire external rehearsal space. We have carefully designed the new rehearsal space so that it is in keeping with the look and feel of the original 1943. The facility has also been fitted with modern lighting and sound systems and has the latest connectivity and networking capabilities.

This new space will be used not only for Progressive Players' rehearsals, visiting hires and local community groups but it is also hoped that it will eventually accommodate a youth theatre group.

We are grateful to have received support from:

  • Arts Council England
  • Garfield Weston Foundation
  • Foyle Foundation
  • National Lottery Reaching Communities
  • Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust
  • Sir James Knott Trust
  • Barbour Foundation
  • Joicey Trust
  • Sylvia Waddilove Foundation UK
  • Theatres Trust
  • RFF Gibson Trust
  • The Rank Foundation
  • William Webster Charitable Trust
  • Percy Hedley 1990 Charitable Trust
  • Meldrum Foundation
  • The Rothley Trust
  • Gateshead Business Resilience Fund
  • St. James's Place Charitable Foundation
  • Lee Brannigan - Bluebell Theatre Productions
  • Progressive Players, Gateshead and many individual donations from friends and community partners of the Little Theatre, Gateshead.

Update - July 2021

The build has been virtually finished with work in July seeing the installation of the spiral staircase, rendering of the new room exterior walls, internal plastering and decorating, installation of electrics and carpets.

The scaffolding was removed in early August and there is only snagging and final clean-ups required. The new rehearsal room will be known as 'The Studio' and was used on 30th July for a play reading.

Update - June 2021

The new room structure has been competed and the roof installed.Walls have been plasterboarded and await skimming. Wiring for audio visual/lighting facilities in the new rehearsal space has been installed and decorating will follow.

The opportunity to repair a gable end wall and bay window railings has been taken whilst the scaffolding access remained in place.

Update - May 2021

The heavyweight structural steel has been installed and covered with a metal trough that has been pumped full of concrete (forming the new rehearsal room floor). A light gauge steel frame has been constructed to form the rehearsal room walls and ceiling. There will be an insulating and weatherproof layer added to the new roof structure. Work on the spiral staircase extension is underway.

All temporary protection has been removed from the auditorium and redecorating and re-installation of radiators is underway.

Update - April 2021

The external auditorium wall has been strengthened and raised in preparation to support the steelwork that will support the new rehearsal room floor.

Work is underway to strengthen the spiral staircase that leads to the bar with a new steel core. This will eventually extend to the floor above providing access to the new area.

In the coming weeks the auditorium will be returned to normal. The covering of the aisles has been completed following foundation work.

During May, the steelwork that will support the new rehearsal room area will be installed and concrete will be added using a metal trough, forming the floor. This floor will be thoroughly soundproofed and will have no direct contact with the auditorium ceiling below, eliminating sound transference.

Update - March 2021

The project has been delayed by approximately 3 weeks due to the unexpected alterations required on the east side wall of the auditorium (Avenue Road) to increase the load bearing capacity. An agreed solution will see deeper foundation excavation trenches created instead of piling in this area, avoiding the risk of disturbing an underground electrical cable in the vicinity. The interior east facing interior auditorium wall was found on exposure to be weaker than expected. This wall will be removed and rebuilt offering greater strength/load bearing capability for the new rehearsal room above. The anticipated completion date is now expected to be early August 2021.

Foundation work on the west side of the auditorium has progressed well and this area will be screeded and re-carpeted soon.

Other works have seen the removal of beams in the bar roof in readiness for installation of stronger steelwork that will support a lobby/entrance area to the auditorium on the floor above. The roof in the landing area of Number 3 Saltwell view is being elevated to increase space where eventually an entrance to the new rehearsal room will be located.

Between 15th and 19th March, a light display was erected to recognise the #lightitinred campaign to raise awareness of the difficulties experienced by theatre and live entertainment venues during the pandemic.

Update - February 2021

The erection of the scaffolding for the first stage of the project was completed. A weatherproof tent, covering half of the auditorium, has been constructed and, following a short delay due to cold weather and snow, the auditorium roof has been removed.

It has been determined that a section of the east facing auditorium wall (Avenue Road) will need to be strengthened to carry the extra load above. Stone pads for the new girders to sit on have been installed. The roof over the spiral staircase and one third of the bar adjacent to the spiral stair has been removed in preparation for further works. The foundation works have not progressed as planned following the discovery of an underground electric supply cable where some piles were intended to be. An alternative solution has been proposed and is awaiting approval from the structural engineer. This may delay the anticipated finish date by approximately two weeks. The foundation piling work on the other side of the auditorium is progressing as planned.

Update - January 2021

Contractors Meldrum Construction arrived on site on 4th January.

A construction office and crew welfare area have been created in the Number 4 café. All of the ground floor carpets have been covered with plastic sheeting. In conjunction with the structural engineer a piled underpinning system is being considered. Scaffolding work has started and will end up with a scaffold tent over half of the auditorium. The auditorium seating has been covered in a protective wooden structure to prevent damage during the works.