Hi-tech developments backstage, cutting-edge drama on stage
The Queen's Theatre in Barnstaple was built 60 years ago on the site of a Victorian theatre. In 1993 it was extensively refurbished to create the beautiful theatre you see today.
But old theatres bring their own set of problems and scenery was still being raised and lowered – like sails – by manpower.
This summer, grants from the North Devon Council and the Arts Council have allowed backstage work to be carried out to install a computer controlled system to handle scenery and create more backstage space for bigger shows.
The theatre is offering tours to show off the new facilities when work is completed later this month.
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There are exciting things on stage too, with a mixed programme of shows.
Worklight Theatre's How to Start a Riot was one of the highlights of last year's Barnstaple Fringe Theatrefest and went on to rave reviews at Edinburgh Fringe.
Three performers use text and torchlight to unpick the presumed causes of civil unrest. Who is present at a riot? If the actions are "mindless", what's in the mind at the time?
Another cutting edge production is Hannah Silva's The Disappearance of Sadie Jones – a unique blend of language, image and physicality, inspired by the ideas of Strindberg and companies such as Frantic Assembly.
Catherine Shipton – familiar as nurse Duffy in Casualty – is in Sarah Daniels' one-woman play Soldiers' Wives.
It looks at the lives of five women living on an army base and how their husband's work impacts on their lives.
Blackeyed Theatre revive Bram Stoker's Dracula with a brilliant, theatrical treatment which blends Victorian Gothic with the Contemporary, drawing on a wide range of forms of popular entertainment that were established or emerging at the time with specially commissioned live music and powerful ensemble performances.
There's much more on offer including one-night shows from Alistair McGowan (September 28), Blake (October 24) and Andy Parsons (October 28).
How to Start A Riot is at the Queen's Theatre, Barnstaple on October 3, The Disappearance of Sadie Jones is on October 2, Soldiers' Wives is on October 8, Dracula is on October 16