Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
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The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre is a theatre located in Guildford, Surrey, England. Named after the actress Yvonne Arnaud, it presents a series of locally produced and national touring productions, including opera, ballet and pantomime. The theatre has two performance venues, a main theatre and the smaller Mill Studio.
Replacing a former repertory theatre in North Street which had been gutted by a fire in 1963, the present complex was opened in 1965 in a riverside site, incorporating a restaurant and bar available to non-theatregoers. The foundation stone was laid by Vanessa Redgrave who commemorated the occasion by casting her hands in concrete.
The company opted to dispense with traditional repertory theatre in favour of a more flexible model in which actors are cast as appropriate to different productions. Many stars have performed at the theatre over the years. Stephen Barry was a young assistant director in the 1960s. The first artistic director, Laurier Lister, was succeeded in 1975 by Val May.
Founding chairman was one-time Mayor of Guildford Archie Graham-Brown.
Presently under the directorship of James Barber, the theatre presents a mixed year-round production schedule that includes an annual pantomime. Its scenery workshop builds for Glyndebourne, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Chichester Festival Theatre. A youth department offers regular productions in the Mill Studio and an annual summer musical on the main stage. The wider theatre space is used for arts and functional purposes including art exhibitions and the annual film season feature, and includes a restaurant and bar.
The Mill Studio
Originally the eighteenth-century Town Mill building housed the theatre's workshops. The studio opened in 1993 as a base for the Youth Theatre's activities. In 1997, a National Lottery grant was used to upgrade the facilities, enabling expansion in audience capacity and the range of productions presented.