CHESHIRE playwright Tim Firth favours converting the former Odeon into a new theatre in the ‘heart of the city’.
Tim, from Frodsham, who wrote the script for hit movie Calendar Girls, is less comfortable with alternative sites being considered at the Little Roodee or the rear of the library.
Tim, who has been shooting his latest film in Northgate Street near the Odeon, said: “A theatre needs to be the beating heart of the city not an addendum to it. The theatre will be as good as the people who programme it but if you have a theatre that works it will bring benefits to the city over and above cultural.”
He said a theatre within the Odeon fronting Market Square and surrounded by beautiful buildings would create a thriving plaza.
Tim advised people to look at what had been achieved by converting the former Odeon at Scarborough, where the majority of playwright Alan Ayckbourn’s work continues to be premiered.
He fears the Little Roodee option would be too isolated from the city centre and is unhappy about creating a theatre accessed through the library.
“My worry about having another building through the library is that part of the joy of theatre is effectively going in to a cathedral dedicated to one thing and that is entertainment.”
Tim said Runcorn’s successful Brindley theatre should inspire Chester.
He admits being initially cynical about whether it would be supported by Warrington and Runcorn which he describes as two of the most apathetic towns with respect to the arts.
“When I heard they were building a theatre I thought there’s a great way to set fire to £3m but how fantastically I have been proved wrong because of intelligent programming. Theatre, amateur theatre, comedy and music have kept that place alive.”
Cheshire West and Chester Council are due to make a final decision on the site for the new theatre on October 13.