Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

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The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre from the terrace

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.[1]


Entrance to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Replacing a former repertory theatre in North Street which had been gutted by a fire in 1963,[2] 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.[1]

The founding chairman was one-time Mayor of Guildford Archie Graham-Brown.

It is a Grade II listed building since 2012, and the architect was John Brownrigg of the locally-based firm Scott Brownrigg and Turner.[3]


Currently 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.[citation needed] A youth department offers regular productions in the Mill Studio and an annual summer musical on the main stage.[4] 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

The Mill Studio[edit]

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.[1] In 1997, a National Lottery grant was used to upgrade the facilities, enabling expansion in audience capacity and the range of productions presented.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°14′01″N 0°34′30″W / 51.233571°N 0.574964°W / 51.233571; -0.574964