New Theatre, Cardiff

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New Theatre
New Theatre Cardiff (16939562447).jpg

Logo new theatre cardiff.png
AddressPark Place
Wales, UK
Capacity 1,144
Opened10 December 1906

The New Theatre (Welsh: Theatr Newydd, although it usually uses its English name as a title) is one of the principal theatres in Cardiff, capital city of Wales, and celebrated its centenary in 2006. It is located in Cardiff city centre on Park Place, close to Cathays Park.

Theatre Collaborative form of performing art

Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers, typically actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music, and dance. Elements of art, such as painted scenery and stagecraft such as lighting are used to enhance the physicality, presence and immediacy of the experience. The specific place of the performance is also named by the word "theatre" as derived from the Ancient Greek θέατρον, itself from θεάομαι.

Cardiff Capital and largest city of Wales

Cardiff is the capital of Wales and its largest city. The eleventh-largest city in the United Kingdom, it is Wales' chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural institutions and Welsh media, and the seat of the National Assembly for Wales. At the 2011 census, the unitary authority area population was estimated to be 346,090, and the wider urban area 479,000. Cardiff is a significant tourist centre and the most popular visitor destination in Wales with 21.3 million visitors in 2017. In 2011, Cardiff was ranked sixth in the world in National Geographic's alternative tourist destinations.

Capital city Primary governing city of a top-level (country) or first-level subdivision (country, state, province, etc) political entity

A capital city is the municipality exercising primary status in a country, state, province, or other administrative region, usually as its seat of government. A capital is typically a city that physically encompasses the government's offices and meeting places; the status as capital is often designated by its law or constitution. In some jurisdictions, including several countries, the different branches of government are located in different settlements. In some cases, a distinction is made between the official (constitutional) capital and the seat of government, which is in another place.


The theatre has a capacity of 1,144, [1] and hosts a number of touring productions including Musical theatre, plays and children's shows and also presents an annual Christmas pantomime.

Musical theatre Stage work that combines songs, music, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance

Musical theatre is a form of theatrical performance that combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting and dance. The story and emotional content of a musical – humor, pathos, love, anger – are communicated through words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an integrated whole. Although musical theatre overlaps with other theatrical forms like opera and dance, it may be distinguished by the equal importance given to the music as compared with the dialogue, movement and other elements. Since the early 20th century, musical theatre stage works have generally been called, simply, musicals.

Play (theatre) form of literature intended for theatrical performance

A play is form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of dialogue or singing between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading. Plays are performed at a variety of levels, from London's West End and Broadway in New York – which are the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world – to regional theatre, to community theatre, as well as university or school productions. There are rare dramatists, notably George Bernard Shaw, who have had little preference as to whether their plays were performed or read. The term "play" can refer to both the written texts of playwrights and to their complete theatrical performance.

Christmas holiday originating in Christianity, usually celebrated on December 25 (in the Gregorian or Julian calendars)

Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is preceded by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night; in some traditions, Christmastide includes an octave. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world's nations, is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians, as well as culturally by many non-Christians, and forms an integral part of the holiday season centered around it.


The building was constructed from brick and Bath Stone and opened to the general public on 10 December 1906. [2] It was constructed under order by Robert Redford, who had rented the Theatre Royal for the previous nine years. At the time of the initial build, the stage was one of the largest in the country, measuring 76 feet (23 m) wide, by 54 feet (16 m) deep and 57 feet (17 m) between the stage itself and the pulley grid hanging above. The first public performance was a performance of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, conducted by the company of Herbert Beerbohm Tree. [3] The company had been brought from His Majesty's Theatre, London, and repeated the performance at the New Theatre on 13 December, and again for a matinee on 15 December. Also performed during the first week were the plays Colonel Newcome , Trilby , The Man Who Was and a further Shakespeare performance of Hamlet . [4]

Brick Block or a single unit of a ceramic material used in masonry construction

A brick is building material used to make walls, pavements and other elements in masonry construction. Traditionally, the term brick referred to a unit composed of clay, but it is now used to denote rectangular units made of clay-bearing soil, sand, and lime, or concrete materials. Bricks can be joined together using mortar, adhesives or by interlocking them. Bricks are produced in numerous classes, types, materials, and sizes which vary with region and time period, and are produced in bulk quantities. Two basic categories of bricks are fired and non-fired bricks.

Prince of Wales Theatre, Cardiff former theatre in Cardiff, Wales; now a pub

The Prince of Wales Theatre is a former theatre in central Cardiff. Built in 1878 seating 2,800, it later became a sex cinema. It is now a pub.

William Shakespeare 16th and 17th-century English playwright and poet

William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His extant works, including collaborations, consist of some 39 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Early performances included the Charles Klein play The Lion and the Mouse by Walter Maxwell's company, [5] and the return of Tree's company with performances of an adapted version of Charles Dickens's The Mystery of Edwin Drood as a warm up to their season in London. [6] The theatre's first film was shown in 1917 called The Birth of a Nation , [7] it was accompanied by a full orchestra. [7]

Charles Klein British-American playwright and actor

Charles Klein was an English-born playwright and actor who emigrated to America in 1883. Among his works was the libretto of John Philip Sousa's operetta, El Capitan. Klein's talented siblings included the composer Manuel and the critic Herman Klein. He drowned during the sinking of the RMS Lusitania.

Charles Dickens English writer and social critic

Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. His works enjoyed unprecedented popularity during his lifetime, and by the 20th century critics and scholars had recognised him as a literary genius. His novels and short stories are still widely read today.

<i>The Mystery of Edwin Drood</i> monthly serial; final and unfinished novel by Charles Dickens; published 1870

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is the final novel by Charles Dickens., originally published in 1870.

In the early years of the British Broadcasting Company's radio broadcasts in the late 1920s, performances and concerts were conducted live on air from the New Theatre. [8] This included the third act of Faust by the Carl Rosa Opera Company on 17 October 1928. [9] By 1931 the theatre had made plans for regular cinema performances. Structural alterations to accommodate projectors, sound equipment and a large screen were made and for the next four years it was used mainly as a cinema, with the occasional live show. [7] In 1935 the theatre was purchased Prince Littler and it returned to full-time live shows again. [7]

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London, and it is the world's oldest national broadcasting organisation and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees. It employs over 20,950 staff in total, 16,672 of whom are in public sector broadcasting. The total number of staff is 35,402 when part-time, flexible, and fixed-contract staff are included.

<i>Faust</i> (opera) Grand opera in five acts by Charles Gounod

Faust is an opera in five acts by Charles Gounod to a French libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré from Carré's play Faust et Marguerite, in turn loosely based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust, Part One. It debuted at the Théâtre Lyrique on the Boulevard du Temple in Paris on 19 March 1859, with influential sets designed by Charles-Antoine Cambon and Joseph Thierry, Jean Émile Daran, Édouard Desplechin, and Philippe Chaperon.

Carl Rosa Opera Company

The Carl Rosa Opera Company was founded in 1873 by Carl Rosa, a German-born musical impresario, to present opera in English in London and the British provinces. The company premiered many operas in the UK, employing a mix of established opera stars and young singers, reaching new opera audiences with popularly priced tickets. It survived Rosa's death in 1889, and continued to present opera in English on tour until 1960, when it was obliged to close for lack of funds. The company was revived in 1997, presenting mostly lighter operatic works including those by Gilbert and Sullivan. The company "was arguably the most influential opera company ever in the UK".

The artists that have performed on stage at the New Theatre have included Sarah Bernhardt, Anna Pavlova, Laurel and Hardy, Tom Jones, Tommy Cooper, Tessie O'Shea and Shirley Bassey. [7] [2] Harold Pinter's play The Homecoming had its world première here on 26 March 1965. [10]

Sarah Bernhardt French stage actress

Sarah Bernhardt was a French stage actress who starred in some of the most popular French plays of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including La Dame Aux Camelias by Alexandre Dumas, fils, Ruy Blas by Victor Hugo, Fédora and La Tosca by Victorien Sardou, and L'Aiglon by Edmond Rostand. She also played male roles, including Shakespeare's Hamlet. Rostand called her "the queen of the pose and the princess of the gesture", while Hugo praised her "golden voice". She made several theatrical tours around the world, and was one of the first prominent actresses to make sound recordings and to act in motion pictures.

Anna Pavlova Russian ballet dancer

Anna Pavlovna Pavlova was a Russian prima ballerina of the late 19th and the early 20th centuries. She was a principal artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet and the Ballets Russes of Sergei Diaghilev. Pavlova is most recognized for her creation of the role of The Dying Swan and, with her own company, became the first ballerina to tour around the world. She toured South America, India and Australia.

Laurel and Hardy British & American comedy duo

Laurel and Hardy were a comedy duo act during the early Classical Hollywood era of American cinema. The team was composed of Englishman Stan Laurel (1890–1965) and American Oliver Hardy (1892–1957). They became well known during the late 1920s to the mid-1940s for their slapstick comedy, with Laurel playing the clumsy and childlike friend of the pompous bully Hardy. The duo's signature tune is known variously as "The Cuckoo Song", "Ku-Ku", or "The Dance of the Cuckoos". It was played over the opening credits of their films and has become as emblematic of the duo as their bowler hats.

In 1954 Welsh National Opera made the New Theatre its home and principal base, however they have subsequently moved and taken up permanent residence in the Wales Millennium Centre. [2] By the early 1960s, audiences declined and the theatre was threatened with demolition. After a temporary closure, the theatre was leased by the Cardiff City Corporation and re-opened in September 1963. [7] In 1969 the Council purchased the theatre outright. [7] It closed in 1970 for refurbishment and a new stage was built in 1976. [7] It later went through an extensive refurbishment in 1988 and 1989. [7] In 1993, Sir Anthony Hopkins unveiled a bronze bust of writer Gwyn Thomas in the foyer. [11] In 2006 the theatre was refurbished and the outside was given a facelift. [7] By 2012 the theatre closed three months to install new seating, the installation of a customer lift and the repainting of the auditorium. [7]

The New Theatre has been a Grade II listed building since 1975. [12]

Present day

The stage from the balcony and boxes to left and right New Theatre -Cardiff -Wales 21Oct2006.jpg
The stage from the balcony and boxes to left and right

Arts Active is the education, community and audience engagement section of St David's Hall and the New Theatre.

The theatre also hosts all the rounds of the Song Prize of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, apart from the final night, which is held in St David's Hall.

It was featured in The Sarah Jane Adventures episode "Secrets of the Stars".

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  1. "New Theatre seating plan". New Theatre. Archived from the original on 2010-01-30. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
  2. 1 2 3 "New Theatre history". New Theatre. Archived from the original on 2011-09-30. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
  3. "Cardiff's New Theatre" . London Daily News (18950). 11 December 1906. p. 12. Retrieved 4 April 2016 via British Newspaper Archive.
  4. "Local Engagements" . Western Daily Press. 97 (15149). 8 December 1906. p. 7. Retrieved 4 April 2016 via British Newspaper Archive.
  5. "Touring Companies" . The Era. 11 August 1906. p. 3. Retrieved 4 April 2016 via British Newspaper Archive.
  6. "The Theatres". The Times (38503). 29 November 1907. p. 10.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "Entertaining South Wales" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-01-27.
  8. "Programmes". The Times (44952). 23 July 1928. p. 21.
  9. ""The Grand Cham's Diamond"". The Times (45026). 17 October 1928. p. 21.
  10. Nightingale, Benedict (1965-03-27). "review: The Homecoming at Cardiff". The Guardian . p. 6.
  11. "Rhondda-born writer remembered". AberdareOnline. Retrieved 2018-01-27.
  12. "New Theatre". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 2013-03-12.

Coordinates: 51°29′01″N3°10′32″W / 51.483662°N 3.175532°W / 51.483662; -3.175532