New play next month celebrates 50th anniversary of the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds

The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds held an event earlier in the year for people to share their mem

The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds held an event earlier in the year for people to share their memories. - Credit: Archant

A new play which tells the “moving” story of a community’s fight to reopen their theatre in Bury St Edmunds is being performed as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations.

Bury St Edmunds-based playwright, Danusia Iwaszko, who was given the brief of capturing the story of

Bury St Edmunds-based playwright, Danusia Iwaszko, who was given the brief of capturing the story of how the Theatre Royal was transformed from a barrel store back into a working theatre. - Credit: TONY KELLY

A Labour of Love has been just that for Bury St Edmunds-based playwright, Danusia Iwaszko, who was given the brief of capturing the story of how the Theatre Royal was transformed from a barrel store back into a working theatre.

The playhouse, which was being used for storage by Greene King, was officially reopened in 1965 following successful fundraising efforts to restore it.

Ms Iwaszko has incorporated the recollections of people who were involved with the Theatre Royal 50 years ago to write A Labour of Love, the story of the special relationships that were forged and the hearts that were broken in realising a dream.

It took six years for the dream of reopening the theatre – a campaign led by Air Vice Marshall Sir Stanley Vincent – to become a reality.


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Ms Iwaszko said: “It’s moving. These people never gave up. It’s about a community coming together. It’s a very Bury story. It’s for our town about the people of our town, and it’s just been a privilege to do it, and I really mean it.” She added: “It’s been a labour of love, actually.”

The play captures the ups and downs in the fight to reopen the theatre as well as the “incredible sense of pride in having done it,” and there are plenty of “laugh out loud” moments. Ms Iwaszko said the theatre actually reopened on April Fools’ Day, marking the humour of the people involved.

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Actors from the local community have been cast in all the parts and local musicians will be playing under the direction of musical director, Phil Gostelow.

The great niece of Sir Stanley, Rebecca Peyton, who is a professional actor, also has a part, as does Sue Harrington Spier, who worked for Olga Ironside Wood – another mover and shaker in bringing the theatre back – as a young actor.

Ms Iwaszko said she got together with Mr Gostelow to write songs for the play, which she described as a “show with music”.

Theatre Royal director Karen Simpson will be directing the show.

A Labour of Love will be performed at the Theatre Royal from July 16 to 25. For tickets, costing £10, call the box office on 01284 769505 or visit www.theatreroyal.org. There will be a gala night (black tie) on July 17 when tickets will be £15 to include a programme and a glass of prosecco.

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