Belgrade Theatre Lifts the Curtain on its New Look

Belgrade Theatre Lifts the Curtain on its New Look

Under the rallying call ‘Sharing Coventry’s stories since 1958’, Belgrade Theatre has unveiled a new look to go with an ambitious strategic vision, focusing on creating work with, and inspired by, local communities.

The theatre’s revamp was devised after extensive consultation and testing with stakeholders including audiences, local artists, participants, staff, trustees, funders and partners across education, healthcare, and the arts industry. It accompanies a new business plan to strengthen and grow the theatre’s reputation towards 2030.

The Belgrade Theatre’s unique history as a post-war community symbol of peace and reconciliation, famously named in recognition of a gift of timber from the Serbian capital, is strongly reinforced at the core of the vision. The theatre has long been recognised for its pioneering work over decades in Theatre-in-Education and is deeply engaged in creating projects with communities. With increased investment from Arts Council England, it announced last year a major expansion of producing capacity including five new roles running innovative programmes across the city.

Future artistic work fulfilling the new vision already underway or in development includes Swim, Aunty Swim! by Siana Bangura directed by Madeleine Kludje (May/June 2024), a new retelling of Romeo & Juliet directed by Corey Campbell (spring 2025), and Nanny Maroon the West African who escaped enslavement in Jamaica (spring 2026). This work will have co-creation at its heart, with local communities closely involved with these productions – for example, some of the music in Romeo & Juliet will be made with pupils from Extended Learning Centres in the region.

Following the best attended Pantomime in decades (2023/24), popular touring shows continue to grow at the Belgrade with record numbers of new and returning audiences since the lockdown period. Further co-productions are in progress with Bristol Old Vic and Hackney Empire, with Rose Theatre, tiata fahodzi, China Plate and Talawa; and tours of The Woman in Black, Shrek the Musical, Sister Act and the return of SIX are proving popular with new and long-standing audiences.

Launching the Belgrade’s new vision, Creative Director Corey Campbell said: “Our responsibility to the communities of Coventry is founded on our rich legacy of Theatre-In-Education, co-creation and working with young people. In this new model, we’re taking that to the next level.

Laura Elliot, Chief Executive, added: “In 1958, the Belgrade Theatre opened as part of the redevelopment of a city still healing from collective trauma as a piece of vital municipal infrastructure for the people of Coventry and our wider region. With our new plan, it will be as much a resource for health and wellbeing, education and career development as it is a space for entertainment. We are grateful to all our funders and supporters who journey with us as we roll out this ambitious new vision.”

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