Bury St Edmunds is the unlikely location of one of the most eye-catching arts venues in the country—the beautiful 200 year-old auditorium of the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds. Built in 1819 and designed by acclaimed neo-classical architect William Wilkins, the theatre is the last remaining Regency-era playhouse in the UK.
All year round the Theatre is the theatrical hub of the West Suffolk region, presenting everything from Shakespeare to stand-up, and classic drama to captivating poetry. But during the summer it also likes to make a bit of a fuss about its unique heritage, by throwing open its doors and inviting visitors inside to explore this unique building, from the pit to the gods and everywhere in between, as part of hugely popular visitor experience Backstage Past.
Launched last year in collaboration with the National Trust, Backstage Past: Access all Eras invites you to stimulate your senses on a journey through the Theatre’s history, from its Regency beginnings right up to the present day. Visitors can see evocative period settings from different eras, listen to the sounds of times gone by, discover through touch, try on a costume, and even smell the past!
Also, for a special two weeks later on in the summer, from 7-17 August, Backstage Past: Live Encounters offers visitors the chance to not only discover the story of the Theatre Royal, but experience it as told by the people who were actually there, as a cast of talented community actors lead curious visitors on a promenade performance of boundless variety. The anecdotes, the dramas the difficulties—200 years of vibrant theatrical life in 60 fascinating minutes!
To complete the Backstage Past visitor experience, the Theatre’s stylish Greene Room restaurant is the perfect venue for a spot of afternoon tea and cake, served on heritage china.
Backstage Past welcomed over 3000 visitors to the theatre last year, many calling the experience “magical” and “an absolutely splendid event.” This summer, the Theatre Royal hopes to welcome YOU to become part of its story.