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Last Updated: Friday, 22 July, 2005, 11:15 GMT 12:15 UK
Oldest theatre rescue bid shunned
Dumfries Theatre Royal (Picture courtesy of Theatre Royal)
The theatre is Scotland's oldest working playhouse
Refurbishment plans for Scotland's oldest working theatre have been rejected by the local council.

Poet Robert Burns was once a patron of the Theatre Royal in Dumfries, where the young JM Barrie, author of Peter Pan, was inspired to write.

A trust has worked for five years to secure 5.2m in funds to restore the dilapidated 18th century building.

But Dumfries and Galloway Council has rejected the plans, saying they would over-develop the B-listed site.

The blow now leaves the backers at risk of losing their funding, which comes from the local authority, Europe, the Lottery and a range of arts and heritage bodies.

If we alter the plans it won't be commercially viable as a theatre - it's very frustrating
Frank Ryan
Theatre Royal trust

The Guild of Players, the amateur dramatics group which runs the 213-year-old theatre, said it was unable to renovate the building any other way.

Frank Ryan, a spokesman for the trust, said: "This is a huge blow. We could appeal to the Scottish Executive but that would be costly and time consuming.

"It would probably result in us losing all our funding. But if we alter the plans it won't be commercially viable as a theatre. It's very frustrating."

Under the proposals, the facade of the theatre on Shakespeare Street would be retained but part of the site would be demolished, rebuilt and extended.

Charlie Chaplin

Inside would be space for a 300-seat auditorium, an 80-seat studio and rehearsal room, a media suite and a cafe bar.

The local authority, which provided a grant of 2.5m last year to revamp the theatre, said it was back to the drawing board.

A spokeswoman said: "This is an unfortunate setback but the application in its present form has had to be rejected on planning grounds.

"Our planning department felt the trust was trying to fit a quart into a pint pot and it would have been better to go to a completely different site."

Among the famous names to have tread the boards there include silver screen comedy legends Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel.


SEE ALSO:
Council agrees to rescue theatre
27 Jul 04 |  Scotland
Schools threatened by council plan
18 Jun 01 |  Scotland


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