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The Local Theatre: Performance space to open for new work

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The future site of The Local Theatre on Snig Hill

A theatre aiming to showcase new work by northern writers is to open in Sheffield city centre.

"It's a project that me and Tim Norwood dreamed up from our personal experiences of the theatres in Sheffield," director Miranda Debenham told Now Then.

"We both felt that Sheffield needed another space, somewhere small scale where people could try out new work and where they could develop their artistry."

The Local Theatre will be housed in a shop unit on Snig Hill that was previously home to the Snig Hill Gallery.

"We're going to have a cafe and a front-of-house space, and then an eighty-seater performance venue in the basement," said Debenham.

Renovation work will begin in early March, and the theatre are looking for volunteers to help with painting and decorating.

The theatre has launched a programme for its debut season, which opens on 10 April with the play The Love Chronicles.

"It's about the love stories that we see in other people," said Debenham. "People that you might otherwise ignore in your day-to-day life, people that you sit next to on the bus or walk past in the street."

The season will also feature a new show from local improv comedy collective Stürike, as well as more political work.

"We have a show from Doppelgangster called Cold War, which is about climate change," Debenham said. "They're taking that to the Prague Fringe but showing it at The Local Theatre first."

Doppelgangster describe Cold War as a "thrilling, hypnotic, and spectacular phantasmagoria from the dusk of the climate crisis", which features "an unruly jazz score".

The venue will also act as an incubator for new companies without experience of the industry.

"We're doing what we call residencies, where people at the start of their careers are coming in and we're giving them a week of free rehearsal space and mentoring on the production side," said Debenham.

"We're hoping that we'll act as a springboard for those shows to go on and tour."

For Debenham, the aim is to present work created by writers who are often overlooked.

"We have a very London-centric arts scene," she said. "Almost all our shows are from the north of England."

The Local Theatre will open in April with seventeen shows in their first season. The programme is available online.

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