New Home – blog no. 5

by Emily Grimson

It’s been a long while since my last update (vast apologies!) and as you can imagine, there has been a lot going on at The Tower. Hopefully by now many of you will have had a chance to see it and possibly even rehearse in it. I have been a regular visitor over the past few weeks myself in the build up to Wolf Hall and I’ve noticed some key changes. First of all, I am very grateful to no longer have to visit the toilet by torchlight as the facilities are now completed! Work has begun on the bar and Room 2 (the one that used to be one half of a swimming pool!) is now regularly in use for rehearsals.

In other news, Stephen Ley took our old lights to be refurbished by none other than the English National Opera lighting team. Long standing members will recognise Kevin Sleep who honed his interest in lighting at the Tower back in the 1980s. He’s now head of lighting at the ENO and is delighted to be helping his old company. Hopefully we will see more of him at our new home.

Another important stage of our move into the new Tower Theatre has also been taking place over the past few weeks – our fabulous wardrobe. A major sorting, clearing and boxing up campaign took place at City Lit (undertaken by the fabulous Sheila Burbidge, Lynda Twidale, Peter Westbury and Freddie Norris) while at the other end, Nick Insley was busy building our hanging rails (assisted by returning member Michelle Balgobin and new local members Sarah and Mike Nower) so that all was ready for the move of our enviable costume collection from the City Lit storage to its new home.  

Over the weekend of the 9th/10th June, Tower volunteers led by David Taylor were on hand to make sure that the team of professional movers were able to transport everything in just two trips. At the City Lit end, David had Peter, Ella McKenzie, Ian and Ben Thiele-Long and Nicola Stanhope helping to load rails and boxes of costumes and dismantling daunting quantities of shelving. Nick arrived from Stoke Newington duties to take down the old hanging rails. While back in Stoke Newington, Sheila’s team of Nick, Lynda, Michelle, Sarah and Mike with Tom Tillery, Stephen Brasher and Rob Hebblethwaite were receiving the stock into the new Wardrobe space and finding homes for (almost) everything.  It was a great effort by everyone from those in their 20s to those in their 80s and much fun was had by all!

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Stephen Brasher in the empty Cit Lit rehearsal room

Despite this amazing progress there is still A LOT to do, including building new shelving and more sorting and hanging of stock. Harry and Ros Reeder are keeping a note of volunteer teams to get the work done at the new theatre, so if you’re reading this and are itching to get involved please don’t hesitate to contact them here: towertheatrenewhome@gmail.com and let them know your availability. Team work makes the dream work!

Speaking of which, there has been a massive fundraising effort for our Big Get In with almost £50,000 raised at the time of writing, but with almost a month left to go there’s still time for a final push! So, if you’re yet to donate, please do so – every penny really does count –  and if you’ve already donated please do spread the news to your friends, family and any theatre goers you know. You can donate via the Crowdfunding page here.

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