Some of the biggest and brightest stars on the northern theatre scene are putting their names and talents behind the Square Chapel Arts Centre, the unique Halifax venue that’s recently reopened after a stunning multi-million-pound capital redevelopment.
Top Liverpool playwright/director Willy Russell and actor/novelist George Costigan, along with the amazing young stage and TV actress Natalie Gavin, are in the line-up in the autumn season of events of family and theatre shows, comedy and live music acts, exclusive talks and events with well-known faces, and over 200 film screenings.
The £6.6 million project has transformed the arts centre with: a new extension for the Square Chapel with improved facilities; an intimate, multi-purpose auditorium for performances, film screenings and workshops; a welcoming café/bar; improved access throughout; new dressing rooms; new and improved toilet facilities; new projector and sound system; dedicated space for committed volunteers.
David McQuillan, who was recently appointed director, joined Square Chapel in 2003 as Outreach Officer aged 23, rose to become development manager, and started work securing funding for the £6.6 million redevelopment, on which work began in September 2015. He was also the lead for the £3.8 million project to build Orangebox – the state-of-the-art young
people’s centre in Halifax – in which Square Chapel is a primary partner.
David said: “Sometimes you find an organisation where the values and ethos just resonate with your own and over the last 13 years I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. We’re very lucky to work in such a historically important building, but it’s the great team of people – staff, volunteers, friends and partners – who give the place its soul and who, in this beautiful stone town, provide this beautiful red brick beating heart. I am thrilled and feel especially privileged to be appointed director of this amazing place at such an exciting time.”
‘Exciting time’ isn’t an idle boast, as a glance at the programme proves. Events celebrating the late Andrea Dunbar, the Yorkshire playwright famous for Rita Sue and Bob, Too includes on one night only, Thursday November 9, Dunbar’s last play, Shirley starring Natalie Gavin. Proud Yorkshire lass Natalie, 28, whose work includes Channel 4’s Shameless, BBC’s The Syndicate, ITV’s Jericho, has become a patron of the Square Chapel, along with such famous names as Timothy West, Reece Dinsdale and Sally Wainwright.
Natalie will also appear with Manjinder Virk to talk about their experiences of starring in the film The Arbor, about Andrea Dunbar, at a special showing of the restored film on Sunday October 29.
George Costigan, who is also a Square Chapel patron, will be in conversation with Willy Russell – writer of ‘Blood Brothers’, ‘Educating Rita’ and ‘Shirley Valentine – on Sunday 26 November. Expect readings, stories, a Q&A and much more.
Square Chapel will be the must visit venue in 2017 and many more years to come. To find out more about the programme, see www.squarechapel.co.uk