Theatres in Wales
Theatr Clwyd, Mold
Theatr Clwyd is Wales’s largest producing theatre and their aim is to make the world a happier place one moment at a time. They do this through transporting people with stories on their stages and by putting the community at the heart of their work.
Theatr Clwyd was built in 1976 to provide cultural opportunities for people living in the north of Wales. Its stages have been graced by Anthony Hopkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Timothy Dalton and Owen Teale, among others, and in 2018 the venue was proud to win an Olivier Award for Home, I’m Darling which starred Katherine Parkinson and Richard Harrington.
The theatre works with the local health board and health charities to use the arts to support people’s mental and physical health and develop bespoke projects which support some of the most marginalised people in the surrounding communities.
Theatr Clwyd has embarked on a capital redevelopment programme to ensure that the building is safeguarded for future generations.
Venue Cymru, Llandudno
Situated on the promenade at Llandudno, Venue Cymru is a theatre, conference centre and arena, formerly known as the Aberconwy Centre and the North Wales Theatre and Conference Centre. Venue Cymru has a large main theatre with seating for 1,500 people and an arena which hosts high profile rock and pop acts.
In 2010, Irish vocal pop band Westlife held a concert for Where We Are Tour and the Arena space been used for live rock band performances from acts including Bloc Party, Manic Street Preachers and Feeder.
Stand up comedy, opera, ballet and a host of creative and dance workshops are all part of the events timetable. If you’re looking for something more offbeat there are story circles, a graffiti club and vertical dancing.
Theatrau Sir Gâr
Part of Carmarthenshire County Council’s Leisure department, Theatrau Sir Gâr manages three performing arts venues within the county – The Ffwrnes, in Park Street, Llanelli, The Lyric, in King Street, Carmarthen and The Miners’, in Wind Street, Ammanford.
Each theatre is very different in nature; the Ffwrnes is a state-of-the-art venue, the Lyric is a very traditional proscenium arch theatre while the Miners’ is an intimate venue with fantastic acoustics. This gives the flexibility to put on a varied programme that will appeal to all and offer something for everyone. As part of our Leisure department’s motto, More People More Active More Often, local people are encouraged to get involved in arts participation whether as part of a local performing amateur company, or classes and workshops.
Swansea Grand Theatre
Swansea’s Grand Theatre has been providing the public with a broad range of cultural, artistic and general entertainment events since 1897. During the theatre’s early years, the Grand established itself as a venue for the best touring companies and star names of the time, with visits by the likes of Jessie Mathews, Ivor Novello, Forbes Robertson and the first knight of theatre, Sir Henry Irving – whose signature can still be found in the theatre today.
The Grand then entered a turbulent period in its history from 1933 to the early 1970s with many successes and many failures including being turned into a cinema for a 14-year period, being sadly neglected, and having dwindling audiences mainly thanks to the growing popularity of television. The then local authority (Swansea Corporation/City Council) came to the rescue and took out a long lease in May 1969 before buying the building outright in 1979. The City and County of Swansea continues to own, manage and fund the building today.
A multi-million-pound refurbishment programme from 1983-1987 turned the 1,000-seat theatre into one of the most technically advanced and aesthetically pleasing venues in the UK at a cost of £6.5m. A further £1m in 1999 and the Grand became the proud ‘owner’ of a new arts wing – opened by Catherine Zeta Jones – that increased the space open to visitors by a third and created a new studio performance area, three exhibition areas and a rooftop restaurant and terrace.
Swansea Council invited Race Council Cymru to enter into a five-year agreement to create ‘The Grand Hub’ in the arts wing for over 20 multicultural groups, presenting a joint programme of new professional contemporary diverse work in the studio theatre space and around the building.
Theatr Gwaun, Fishguard
Theatr Gwaun is an independent community theatre with cinema, bar and café in Fishguard, Pembrokeshire. The venue has been through many interesting and challenging times since its opening as a community hall by the Temperance Movement in 1885. When it was threatened with closure several years ago, the community came to the rescue, with a small number of staff and dedicated volunteers taking on all operational activities.
Theatr Gwaun is funded by generous contributors, loyal supporters of the venue’s associate membership, and the Friends of Theatr Gwaun scheme, along with grant awards from sponsors.
Theatr Gwaun is proud to collaborate with three annual musical festivals: Fishguard International Musical Festival, AberJazz and the Fishguard Folk Festival and with well-established and local dramatic companies such as Best Foot Forward, FADDS and Fishguard Musical Theatre Society.
Torch Theatre, Milford Haven
The Torch Theatre was established in 1977 and is one of only three building-based producing theatres in Wales alongside Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre and Theatr Clwyd.
It consists of a 300-seat main house, a 102-seat studio theatre, a bespoke art gallery – Oriel Joanna Field – and Café Torch. The Theatre offers over 1,300 shows, films, art exhibitions and live broadcasts annually to audiences in excess of 80,000. The programme offers plenty of variety across drama, comedy, live music, ballet, dance, family shows, opera and new work, as well as producing an annual festive pantomime.
Past productions include Grav, One Man, Two Guvnors, The Wood, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Turn of the Screw, The Hired Man, Neville’s Island, Oh Hello!, The Little Shop of Horrors and An Inspector Calls. In 2015, the Torch Theatre Production Company were double Laurel Award winners for the sell-out productions of Grav and Oh Hello! at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
In addition to a diverse annual programme, it offers a youth theatre, a community choir, mother and baby groups, disability movement groups, dementia-friendly film screenings and is also the Pembrokeshire home to the Welsh National Opera’s critically acclaimed Cradle Choir. The Torch also produces Sunset Cinema, an outdoor summer cinema programme which visits some of Pembrokeshire’s and Carmarthenshire’s most iconic locations.
Theatr Mwldan, Cardigan
Mwldan is a vibrant arts and cinema complex situated in the centre of Cardigan, an old market town on the beautiful coast of west Wales. With three fully digital screens they are Wales’s only truly Independent multiplex, welcoming over 300,000 people a year through their doors.
Mwldan presents a year-round diverse and eclectic professional programme of national and international artistic activity across a wide range of art-forms, including drama, music, dance, film, literature, opera, visual and applied arts. They also have one of best film programmes in Wales, offering over 3,000 screenings a year, including mainstream and specialist film releases, 3D screenings and live satellite broadcast from across the globe.
Theatr Mwldan is also a major producing venue, primarily focused on live music productions which tour to venues and festivals the world over. Since 2006, Mwldan has co-produced more than 70 touring projects, making them one of Wales’s most prolific producing venues.
Savoy Theatre, Monmouth
The Savoy stands on the oldest working theatre site in Wales and has a splendidly varied history. In 1830, the Odd Fellows Society used public subscription to erect the “most commodious hall” in the area which opened later that year and was a home for dances, ceremonies, political rallies and their own meetings. In 1832, it was granted an entertainment license and the earliest record of public performance is 1833.
Early in the 20th Century it turned into a roller skating rink (1909) and became known as The Rinkeries. It mixed skating sessions with short films as cinema became the new vogue. Very quickly the films took over and skating was abandoned. In April 1930, talking pictures arrived and variety died as the golden age of cinema-going began. The New Picture House became part of the Gaumont British chain in 1929.
In 1971 it was re-christened the Regal but began to suffer from declining audiences and closed in the early ’80s and was turned into a Magic Lantern Theatre in 1984. That didn’t last long, nor did an attempt to revive cinema, and it closed again until 1995 when it re-opened as The Savoy.
The auditorium was completely returned to its 1928 glory after a Trust was formed to help obtain grants and £750,000 was obtained through the County Council from Europe to completely refurbish the run-down building. A group of volunteers from the town later took it over, formed a new Trust and re-defined its purpose by restoring high-quality live performance alongside new cinema releases. The 10th anniversary of this new chapter in the Savoy’s history was capped by a Theatre of the Year award in 2019, a fitting tribute to the many volunteers and small cohort of staff who were determined to see the wonderful art deco grade two listed building stay open for business.
The Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl
The striking Art Deco-style white octagonal pavilion has one of the best sprung dance floors in Wales and there are frequent dance performances. Aside from dancing, there are live music and comedy shows inside this seafront venue, which also hosts theatre performances, bands and conferences.
In recent years, names such as Rob Brydon, Eddie Izzard, Elkie Brooks, Cerys Matthews, Hayley Westenra, Katherine Jenkins, Suzi Quatro, Ralph McTell, Joe Pasquale, and Gerry & The Pacemakers have all appeared on the Pavilion’s stage. In 1957, a US Government travel ban prevented Paul Robeson from appearing in person at the Miners’ Eisteddfod, however he still performed live via a secretly arranged transatlantic telephone link-up.
Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
For over 50 years Chapter has been the heartbeat of creativity in Cardiff, an ambitious, multi-artform venue that presents, produces and promotes international art, live performance and film alongside a dynamic social space. Chapter is more than a building. It’s a movement. Founded by two Welsh artists in the 1970s on the site of an old school, it is a hub for the Welsh capital’s thriving creative community. More recently, a sleek, multi-functional space was added which is home to over 30 studios. There you will find dance and theatre groups, film makers, designers and artists in residence to offer a wide range of film, drama, panel discussions, art installations, craft workshops and more.
New Theatre, Cardiff
One of the principal theatres of Wales’s capital city, the New Theatre has a capacity of 1,144, and hosts a number of touring productions including musicals, plays and children’s shows, as well as an annual Christmas pantomime.
It opened to the general public in December 1906 and the first public performance was a performance of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The theatre’s first film, called The Birth of a Nation, was shown in 1917 and was accompanied by a full orchestra.
In the early years of the BBC’s radio broadcasts in the late 1920s, performances and concerts were conducted live on air from the New Theatre.
Artists who have performed on stage at the New Theatre include Sarah Bernhardt, Anna Pavlova, Laurel and Hardy, Tom Jones, Tommy Cooper, Tessie O’Shea and Shirley Bassey. Harold Pinter’s play The Homecoming had its world première there on March 26, 1965.
In 1954, Welsh National Opera made the New Theatre its home and principal base, but subsequently moved to take up permanent residence in the Wales Millennium Centre.
A new stage was built in 1976. In 1993, Sir Anthony Hopkins unveiled a bronze bust of writer Gwyn Thomas in the foyer.
The theatre has played host to rounds of the song prize of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, with the final night being held at St David’s Hall.
Sherman Theatre, Cardiff
The Sherman was built as a twin-auditorium venue in 1973 with financial support from Cardiff University. Based in the heart of the capital, Sherman Theatre is a leading producing house which creates and curates exceptional theatre for the people of Cardiff. Its focus on the development and production of new writing and on nurturing of Welsh and Wales-based artists makes the Sherman the engine room of Welsh theatre. Sherman Theatre tells local stories with global resonance through its productions rehearsed and built under its roof in the capital.
St David’s Hall, Cardiff
St David’s Hall is a performing arts and conference venue in the heart of the capital city.
It hosts the annual Welsh Proms and the biennial BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. As well as classical music, it also offers up jazz, soul, pop, rock, dance, children’s, rhythm and blues, musicals and other forms of world music, as well as light entertainment artists. The foyers have regular free performances from music groups, while the foyers, balconies and bar areas are also used to host art exhibitions.
BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales (BBC NOW) is the orchestra-in-residence at St David’s Hall, performing regularly between September and June each year. Almost all of the orchestra’s concerts at St David’s Hall are recorded for live or deferred broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
Wales Millennium Centre is an arts centre located in the Cardiff Bay area of the Welsh capital. The building was officially opened on the weekend of November 26, 27 and 28, 2004. A three-day ceremony was organised by Bryn Terfel, the creative director of the whole opening weekend. Phase one of the building was opened during that weekend and phase two opened on January 22, 2009, with an inaugural concert. The centre has hosted performances of opera, ballet, contemporary dance, theatre comedy, pop stars and musicals.
Wales Millennium Centre comprises one large theatre and two smaller halls with shops, bars and restaurants. The main Donald Gordon Theatre has 2,497 seats, the BBC Hoddinott Hall 350 and the Weston Studio Theatre 250.
WMC houses the Welsh National Opera, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Literature Wales, National Dance Company Wales, Hijinx Theatre, Touch Trust, Tŷ Cerdd, Urdd Gobaith Cymru and the Arts Council of Wales.
The Centre has made numerous appearances in film and television, including Doctor Who, whose modern era is produced locally by BBC Wales. The spin-off series Torchwood, has its headquarters, known as ‘The Hub’, set underneath the adjacent Water Tower, Roald Dahl Plass, with the Wales Millennium Centre’s frontage featuring heavily through the show.