For many small regional theatres the art of survival is about getting ‘bums on seats’… And at The Bear Pit Theatre in Stratford those important behinds will be greeted with style as the theatre has just been fitted with 100 new seats.
The seating has come from The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Courtyard Theatre, which is currently undergoing major renovations.
The Bear Pit, which is in Rother Street, has come up with a clever scheme to give you a chance to sponsor a seat, starting at £100. Seat sponsors will benefit from an individually named plaque on their seat. Sponsors will also be invited to a special celebratory gala night to officially ‘christen’ their seats.
Matthew Kelly, who is currently starring in Volpone at the Swan Theatre, as part of his debut season this summer with the RSC, took time away from his busy schedule to try out the new seating at The Bear Pit. The good-humoured actor “oohed” and “ahhed” as he marvelled at the comfortableness of his seat, and joked: “It’s so important for the audience to be comfy — you can’t concentrate on what’s happening on stage if your arse aches!” Turning serious for a moment, he continued: “This is an inspirational move by The Bear Pit to not only safeguard a part of the RSC’s history, but provide a seat for life for Bear Pit fans and their friends.”
Simon Allen, chairman of The Bear Pit, said: “The opportunity to acquire and install 100 original theatre seats from The Courtyard Theatre into The Bear Pit was just too good to miss and reflects the special relationship we enjoy with the Royal Shakespeare Company, which owned and operated The Courtyard Theatre. Not only will the new seating provide our audiences with extra comfort, but it also brings more of Stratford’s theatrical heritage to The Bear Pit.
“We shall be producing a numbered seating plan and the sponsorship funds will go towards acquiring other theatrical staging and production equipment on our wish list”, he added. The seats are being made available to both individuals and corporate organisations.
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