The brand new and ground-breaking 21st century Bridge Theatre opened last week costing a fraction of what Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is planning to spend on its new development.
National Theatre veterans Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr, in conjunction with leading architects Haworth Tompkins, have built a theatre so adaptable that the auditorium can be adapted to end-on, thrust and promenade formats shaming Tunbridge Wells’s proposed traditional and dated layout.
Using radical and ground-breaking designs, theatre specialists Haworth Tompkins oversaw the build costing only a reported £12m, shaming Tunbridge Wells Borough Council as it has spent £4.2m of public money on consultants alone. Hytner says:
“We’ve built an environment for the audience that is exciting, welcoming and flexible – a theatre that can be changed to suit the show.”
Earlier in the year TW Alliance member and event expert Ben van Grutten was rebuffed by council chiefs for suggesting forward-thinking designs. “If these were good ideas,” said Diane Brady, TWBC’s Interim Civic Development Manager, “then one of our experts would have suggested them.”
A spokesman for TW Alliance said, “It is this attitude from the council that makes people question if they are competent to run a development such as this.” He added, “Not only was there no pitch process to appoint the architects, but we are left with a 20th-century theatre design that is supposed to last well into the 21st century.”