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Ambitious theatre revival plans for Barton take off

By citizenmike  |  Posted: January 20, 2014

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The Olympus Theatre: How it used to look

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AMBITIOUS plans to revitalise a derelict theatre in Barton will soon take centre stage.

The Olympus Theatre, in Barton Street, has once again opened its doors for all things theatrical but the main space is still out of bounds.

The bar and a temporary studio space are being used by groups as diverse as University of Gloucestershire and new playwrights.

But developer Phil McCormick, who is transforming the theatre with business partner Saqib Rasul, is forging ahead with plans to build a new extension above the bar area to create state-of-the-art new studios.

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They also want to transform the main space by putting in a new floor and flexible seating to make the auditorium suitable for a wide range of events.

He said: “We have just met with a heritage and conservation consultant to commission a report required by planning officers to bolster our second phase planning application for the flat floor and flexible seating in the theatre, and the second floor to be constructed over the existing bar and studio for new rehearsal, performance and recording space.

“It was nice to meet a consultant who actually just gets it. He had the vision for the project.”

Once the report has been compiled, the plans can be submitted to Gloucester City Council’s planning committee for consideration.

Mr McCormick has said that he will not sit and wait for plans to be agreed, instead he is getting the doors open as much as possible to get the theatre back into use.

The temporary studio is used regularly by performing arts students from the University of Gloucestershire.

A newly-formed group for playwrights met at the theatre for the first time last week too and will be meeting on a regular basis.

The theatre was also home to a reading of an upcoming production by the Phoenix Players.

Mr McCormick has said that he wants to try and forge better links between theatre communities in Gloucestershire using the Olympus. He said: “Lots of people are trying to make things happen, lots of things are going on, but there is often no way of getting the word out to the population.

“We need to sort this out and start spreading the word.”

The businessmen took over the theatre last year and have removed the old, dated seating in the auditorium, transforming it into a space capable of holding up to 500 people.

City councillor Usman Bhaimia (L, Barton and Tredworth) praised the efforts to return the venue, also formerly known as the Picturedrome, to its old theatre days.

He said: “It would bring the right sort of people in and create a whole new night-time economy.”

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4 comments

  • jarekadams  |  January 21 2014, 1:39PM

    I've seen a few tries to get this theatre going over the years, but this one is a really substantial refurbishment and redevelopment. Follow the Olympus Theatre on Facebook to see just how much is happening there, and how to get involved.

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  • jarekadams  |  January 21 2014, 1:36PM

    I've seen a few tries to get this theatre going over the years, but this one is a really substantial refurbishment and redevelopment. Follow the Olympus Theatre on Facebook to see just how much is happening there, and how to get involved.

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  • Soft Data Internet Limited  |  January 21 2014, 11:16AM

    It has been derelict a long time. The Olympus is already being used by Gloucester university and there is a lot going on

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  • Snappy_Happer  |  January 21 2014, 2:11AM

    Now it's a 'derelict' theatre. Since when? The community would take an interest if they thought anything was happening...

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