The Citizens Theatre in Glasgow has revealed the first glimpses of its new look after undergoing a major redevelopment. The theatre, which has been closed since 2018, is expected to reopen in summer 2024 with a transformed building that will conserve its heritage and make it accessible to all.
A historic landmark for Glasgow
The Citizens Theatre is one of Scotland’s oldest and most iconic theatres, dating back to 1878. It has been home to some of the country’s most renowned actors, directors and playwrights, and has a reputation for producing bold and innovative work. The theatre is also a vital part of the Gorbals community, offering a range of participation and education projects for people of all ages and backgrounds.
The theatre’s building, however, was in urgent need of repair and renovation, as it suffered from structural issues, poor accessibility, outdated facilities and a lack of public spaces. The theatre closed its doors in 2018 and embarked on a £19.4 million redevelopment project, designed by architects Bennetts Associates, to secure its future and restore its glory.
A new look for the old theatre
The redevelopment project aims to transform the theatre’s building, while preserving its unique features and character. Some of the key improvements include:
- A new frontage that will reveal the original Victorian façade and create a welcoming entrance for visitors.
- A new foyer and café that will provide more space and comfort for audiences and staff.
- A new studio theatre that will offer a flexible and intimate space for smaller-scale productions and events.
- A new learning suite that will host the theatre’s extensive education and outreach programmes.
- A new rooftop terrace that will offer stunning views of the city and the river Clyde.
- A new lift and accessible toilets that will make the theatre more inclusive and user-friendly for everyone.
- A new ventilation system that will improve the air quality and temperature in the auditorium and backstage areas.
- A new technical infrastructure that will enhance the theatre’s production capabilities and reduce its environmental impact.
A return of the statues
One of the most striking features of the theatre’s new look is the return of the six statues that once stood on the roof of the building. The statues represent the four Greek muses of tragedy, comedy, song and poetry, and dance, as well as Shakespeare and Burns. They were removed from the roof in 1977, when the building was condemned, and placed in the foyer in 1989. They have now been restored and reinstalled on the roof, where they will once again watch over the theatre and the city.
The statues were restored by sculptor David J Mitchell, who used traditional techniques and old photos to recreate the missing pieces and repair the damages. He said: “It was a privilege to work on these statues, which are part of Glasgow’s cultural heritage. They are beautiful sculptures, full of expression and detail, and I hope they will be enjoyed by generations to come.”
A countdown to reopening
The theatre’s redevelopment project is expected to be completed by summer 2024, allowing the theatre to reopen to the public in autumn 2024. The theatre’s executive director and joint CEO, Alex McGowan, said: “I’m delighted to see the progress of the redevelopment project, which is a huge undertaking and a labour of love for everyone involved. We can’t wait to welcome back our audiences, artists and participants to our new home, which will be a vibrant and inspiring place for theatre and culture in Glasgow.”
The theatre’s artistic director and joint CEO, Dominic Hill, said: “The redevelopment project is not only about improving the building, but also about enhancing the theatre’s artistic vision and ambition. We are looking forward to creating new work and new opportunities for the theatre, and to continuing our tradition of excellence and innovation in theatre-making.”
The theatre’s reopening will mark a new chapter in its history, and a celebration of its legacy and contribution to Scotland’s cultural landscape.