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Curtain rises on Reading’s newest theatre

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The curtain has risen on Reading’s newest theatre – and appropriately enough, the first play was called Fantastic Acts.

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The St Bart’s Theatre held its inaugural performance to a full house of 150 on Saturday, November 8 and is the start of plans to help transform St Bartholomew’s Church in east Reading into community hub.

Fantastic Acts was performed by York-based Riding Lights Theatre Company, a touring group that will shortly be visiting Newbury and Goring. The play focuses on events relating to the birth of the Church, as seen in the book of Acts.

The group will be returning to St Barts on Monday, December 1, for a performe of Goose Chase, a feather-flying tale of the first Christmas. The family-friendly show starts at 6.30pm and tickets cost just £3 for children.

The St Bart’s Theatre is working with local theatre company Stage-Fright’s artistic director Michael Johnson.

He is delighted that the very first show has sold out: “It shows that there’s an interest for this kind of performance and venue.

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He added: “We’re very excited – this is the beginning of a new venture for St Bartholomew’s. The church is looking to use the building in new and creative ways to attract people who want to explore faith in a different way.”

Stage-Fright has been producing community theatre in Wokingham area over the past few years and will be working closely with St Bart’s Theatre. Other groups will also be getting involved including Reading Between The Lines, which is planning a performance of Much Ado About Nothing in February and Beautiful Creatures, who performed The Fortress to great acclaim at last year’s Caversham Festival.

Michael is excited at the possibility of groups using St Bart’s Theatre as rehearsal and performance space.

“It’s an exciting development,” he said. “We’re also talking to the University of Reading’s art department and schools in the area to see what collaborations we can do together.”

The curtain may have come down on Fantastic Acts, but it’s clear that this is only Act One for St Bart’s Theatre.

Goose Chase

Goose Chase will be performed by the Riding Lights Theatre Company at 6.30pm on Monday, December 1, at St Bart’s Theatre, St Bartholomew’s Road, east Reading. Tickets cost £7 or £3 for children. For tickets, call the box office on 0118 931 3740.

Much Ado About Nothing

Reading Between The Lines will perform Much Ado About Nothing at St James’ Church in Forbury, Reading from February 4-14. Tickets have yet to go on sale. For more details, visit its website

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