Clifftown Theatre

Venue details

  • Programme Manager: Teresa Zoers
  • Telephone: 01702 328325
  • Website: clifftowntheatre.co.uk
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  • Capacity: 120-150 (Dependant on the seating layout)
  • Features: Disabled Access,
  • Address: Clifftown Theatre, Nelson Street, Southend on Sea, Essex, SS1 1EF

The Clifftown Theatre is a beautifully converted gothic church in the heart of Southend-on-Sea (only 50mins by train from central London) and the most dynamic and unique performance space in the area. Clifftown originally opened its doors as a United Reform Church in 1865, later seeing a large back extension in the form of a WWI memorial hall in the 1920s. Desolate and empty for many years at the end of the 20th Century, Clifftown Theatre was sympathetically renovated into a state-of-the-art theatre, reopening its doors to the public in 2008.

In all, from conception to opening, the project of creating the theatre with its stunning original features, including stone pillars and might organ, took 4 years. It was undertaken by The University of Essex and East 15 Acting School, who are now resident. They worked with a team of experts, including local architects and construction companies.

The cost of conversion was nearly £10,000,000, of which a considerable amount was raised by EEDA, the HCA, the Thames Gateway project and East of England grants.

The building has been awarded a ‘Conservation Award’ from the Southend-on-Sea Borough Council Design Awards 2009, with particular praise given to the “subtle integration into the street-scene, the intimate theatre space and the care taken to retain and record historic features”. It is an excellent building with pleasant front of house staff and facilities as well as good disabled access to the theatre and ground floor studios. Excellent acoustics, sightlines and legroom all create a friendly relationship between audience and performers.

As our audience base and diverse season content continue to grow and develop, Clifftown has begun a new life as a receiving house and producing house, offering exciting spring, summer and autumn seasons, now numbering 11 since its opening in 2008 and attracting nationally recognised production companies. Tickets are reasonably priced and the venue is popular.

The Clifftown Theatre is also for hire. It offers a capacity of 120-150, completely staffed, a well stocked lighting rig and theatre PA, bare walls or black drapes as desired on the surprisingly large stage. There are good backstage facilities for professional shows and community use. Our 5 large studios are also available for hire for rehearsals, conferences etc, with our largest studio also being suitable for performance, with light and sound facilities to suit.

The Foyer Bar offers a small but varied selection of spirits, as well as wines, beers and cocktails and is also available for hire for smaller events, having been used in the past for poetry readings and performance art demonstrations.

For more information on the Clifftown Theatre and its facilities please contact: Teresa Zoers on 01702 328 325 or tazoers@essex.ac.uk