Hull Truck Theatre on track to celebrate a milestone anniversary
PUBLISHED: 16:51 06 September 2011 | UPDATED: 19:57 20 February 2013
Hull Truck Theatre is not letting a funding crisis bring down the curtain on plans to celebrate a milestone anniversary, as Jo Haywood reports Photographs by Neil Holmes
It started out with a lonely hearts ad Half-formed theatre company seeks other half must be willing to move to Hull and has been a labour of love ever since.
The 40-year history of Hull Truck Theatre has been a deftly-plotted drama since that light-hearted advert in Time Out, placed by its first artistic director Mike Bradwell, whose aim was to create one of the most innovative theatre companies anywhere in Britain.
Alan Plater and Anthony Minghella were among the first to heed his cry for creative partners, taking the theatre through its important, foundation-laying initial decade, but it was playwright John Godber who provided its steely backbone and fervent flair for the next 27 successful years.
oday, the legacy of Bradwell and Godber and the numerous artists and writers they fostered remains at the heart of the companys new theatre, which opened in 2009. On the face of it, this seemed like a very positive move, but it has brought with it a raft of problems, exacerbated further in recent months by swingeing public sector funding cuts.
Now, creative director Andrew Smaje and his dedicated team face a two-pronged battle: to fill the increased capacity provided by the new venue and to balance its severely depleted books. To this end, the theatre has launched an appeal to tackle cuts that amount to almost 500,000 over the next three years, slashing its public sector funding from 33 per cent to 25 per cent.
Its eye-catching campaign, 4 Trucks Sake, appeals to theatre-goers to make a donation, however small, to stave off future shortfalls. The message has gone out to more than 25,000 people as part of the theatres new season brochure.
We are issuing a call to action to our audiences, local businesses and key individuals to support Hull Truck and help ensure our ability to weather the funding cuts over the next three years, said Andrew.
Next year, we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Hull Trucks first ever production. In order to ensure that the company has another fantastic 40 years ahead, we really need our wonderful audiences to support us.
We know that these are tough times for everybody, so were asking people just to donate whatever they can afford. Even a small gesture will make a great difference to us.
Hull Truck has faced increasing financial difficulties since moving to Ferensway in 2009. At the end of the financial year 2009/10, the theatre posted a 250,000 deficit, which increased to 400,000 the following financial year. This has been attributed to higher than expected running costs in the new venue.
Its new season began last month with The Rise and Fall of Little Voice starring former Emmerdale actor Lisa Riley, and it continues until the end of the year with The Glee Club, by Richard Cameron, and youth theatre productions of Quadrophenia and Alice in Wonderland.
Christmas will see two productions The Flint Street Nativity and Elves and the Shoemaker and there will also be an impressive programme of incoming productions from big names such as comedians Andy Parsons and Jerry Sadowitz.
As well as making donations towards the fundraising effort, audiences are also being urged to support the new season. In other words, they need to actually buy a ticket or two.
Andrew is doing his bit by expanding the theatres programme of work in order to attract new audiences, a task he has attacked with gusto since taking the helm last October.
We now have 300 more seats to fill than we had at our former home in Spring Street that was never going to happen overnight, he said. What we need to do is to produce consistently brilliant work work that our new audience and our potential audiences can get really excited about.
Hulls hidden heritage
Visitors and residents alike will be given the opportunity to find out more about Hulls rich history from September 8th-11th as part of the citys annual Heritage Open Days.
This has been a popular and important part of Hull Civic Societys summer programme for more than 30 years. It has undergone a name change in that time from Open House to Heritage Open Days but the rationale has remained constant: to give people a first-hand insight into the citys unique heritage.
Among the many highlights this year are tours of Maister House, a grade one listed lavish house built in 1744 for merchant and MP Henry Maister; expeditions to the top of the tower at St Mary the Virgin, one of Hulls oldest churches; and behind-the-scenes access to the BBC building in Queens Court, where visitors will be able to watch live broadcasts. For further details, visit hodshull.co.uk.
Getting there: Hull is just off the eastbound M62. First Hull Trains operates direct daily services between the city and London with a fastest journey time of around two hours 30 minutes. For details, visit hulltrains.co.uk or nationalrail.co.uk. You could also jet into Humberside Airport (Humberside-airport.co.uk), just 30 minutes from the city centre.
Where to park: Hull City Council operates 12 off-street car parks in and around the city centre providing 2,500 parking spaces, including electric vehicle charging points at George Street multi-storey.
Where to visit: You might not want to jump off the docks into the sea, but that doesnt mean you have to miss out on an underwater experience in Hull. The Deep, an aquatic adventure in the company of sharks, giant turtles and seahorses, remains a perennial family favourite. Other attractions include picturesque Queen Victoria Square, Wilberforce House, Dinostar (the citys hands-on dinosaur experience), the Maritime Museum and Spurn Lightship.
The print version of this article appeared in the September 2011 issue of Yorkshire Life
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