Sunday, 14 May 2017

Storyhouse Theatre grand opening

My wife and I went to the new Storehouse Theatre for its opening night on Thursday.  If you get the chance - go.  The new facilities are fantastic.  Within the old cinema building there is a theatre, a cinema, Chester's new library as well as bar and restaurant facilities.

This wonderful building was a CWaC Conservative project.  Lynn was very involved in the work that brought this wonderful facility to the Borough.  She's penned the following piece celebrating its formal first night:

'As Storyhouse raises its the new curtain on its first production, there's a considerable amount of 'happy talk' going on right now.  This iconic new venture is not just the talk of the town, it's being celebrated for its national significance with all media covering the 'story.' There is a marked absence of anything that looks or sounds remotely critical and to a person, everyone who has had the chance of a look around has emerged as an ambassador for Storyhouse and all that it can do for the city and the wider Borough.

Inevitably it hasn't always been this way and if a week is a long time in politics, then the 7 year journey that has led to Storyhouse's opening feels like a marathon. 

This marathon started when Chester City's then Labour Council shut the old Gateway Theatre in March 2007.  Since the day those doors closed, the City aspired to opening new ones. When Cheshire West and Chester Council arrived in 2009 we got this message loud and clear.  We set out to dream the dream and put a deliverable plan to the the music of 

'You've got to have a dream, 
if you don't have a dream, 

how you gonna have a dream come true.' 

The One City Plan created for the City, remains the blueprint for Chester.  One of the key chapters, written into that screenplay, is culture - in all its eclectic forms! 

The real achievement is the 7 year relay that brought together and involved so many passionate and committed individuals and groups.  They've all stayed the distance that has lit the beacon of our Storyhouse. 

It's been the opportunity to encourage the environment where those involved in the arts and theatre can play on, whilst we built them a stage. In so many ways, the absence of a theatre since 2007 fanned the cultural flames.  The annual calendar is now packed with innovative productions like the Mystery Plays, the Open Air Theatre, Theatre in the Quarter.  They've all used the City as their stage.

Indeed, for Storehouse  the Oscaresque thank-you speech would have run to hours.  This is largely down to the brave decision at the time to support and ultimately appoint Chester Performs, a local, grassroots theatre company to manage it.

It's been a hard path from the 2010 'vision' to the 2017 'voila,' dogged by vocal local critics along the way. This week I googled the 2013 criticism about the failed  application for Capital of Culture 2017. Today of all days, it feels like we got there in spite of the judges and the City's armchair critics.

As Conservatives, our politics is about getting things done and making a difference.  We are proud of our leading role in bringing about the theatre. This is truly our S Tory house!  

'Men [and women] are sometimes are masters of their fate.'  This quote comes from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar - which is one of the opening round of productions.  

We seised the opportunity.  We had the vision and confidence to build something great.  Something that will be long lasting.  Not something you see in the current 'Labour's lost' administration.