Southampton Celebrates

Southampton Celebrates opening Studio 144 with spectacular opening night with performances fireworks and a real Spitfire!? Arriving for a drinks reception at Tyrrells Restaurant partnered with NST City in the main house, Tyrrells will serve the finest local food and drink overlooking Guildhall Square.

"This new hub for creativity is an outstanding achievement, made possible through combining several national bodies for the arts including, City Eye, John Hansard Gallery and Southampton City Council, Arts Council England &University of Southampton. These combined efforts have helped to nurture and secure the future for Southampton City’s proud artistic hub right in the heart of the Guildhall Square." - Blake Hopley LOOP Magazine


We were greeted by restaurant and theatre staff into the newly theatre studio at NST. Talks and speeches by the Director of NST Samuel Hodges, Darren Henley OBE from the Arts Council England and Sir Christopher Snowden, President and Vice Chancellor for the University of Southampton were highlighting the outstanding achievement they have made in combining several national bodies for the arts in this unique hub for creativity including, City Eye, The John Hansard Gallery, Nuffield Southampton Theatres and Southampton City Council. These combined efforts have helped to nurture and secure the future for Southampton City’s proud artistic hub in the Guildhall square.

NST City

Nuffield Southampton Theatres is one of the UK’s leading professional theatre companies, commissioning, developing and producing fresh, vital experiences through theatre. It has developed a profile and reputation of innovation and quality delivering work on a national and international scale, taking work to London and Dubai, whilst acting as a major cultural force for good in the city of Southampton.  NST opened a second venue in Southampton city centre, NST City, with the world premiere of Howard Brenton’s ‘The Shadow Factory’. NST City will include a 450 seat main house theatre and a 133 seat studio, screening facilities, rehearsal and workshop spaces. Running alongside NST Campus on the University of Southampton’s Highfield Campus, NST will remain equally committed to both venues. NST’s programme is backed by a bespoke artist development programme, NST Laboratory and extensive outreach and community projects, NST Connect.

With a visit to John Hansard Gallery we saw some really creative pieces of art displayed and it was a real highlight to hear from Woodrow Kernohan, Director of the John Hansard Gallery, Susan Beckett, Director of City Eye and Councillor Satvir Kaur from Southampton City Council in how they have achieved the opening of the gallery and have built their dreams within the centre of the city of Southampton.

A huge crowd of an estimated 4,000 enjoyed a spectacular performance in the guild hall square by ZoieLogic Dance Theatre and a cast of 130 dancers from Southampton’s communities, a ford car and a Spitfire with an impressive firework display was launched from the rooftop of the theatre, highlighting how momentous this occasion is for the Arts in Southampton.

After the fireworks we attended the World premiere production to Southampton’s Brand new theatre NST City, ‘The Shadow Factory’ by Howard Brenton and directed by Samuel Hodges.

Actors and performers included Anita Dobson, David Birrell, Catherine Cusack, Hilton McRae, Shala Nyx, Daniel York and Lorna Fitzgerald and their fantastic performance was set in autumn 1940 during the Battle of Britain, and a spitfire was even installed in Guildhall Square to mark this moment of human history.


As the Spitfire was our only hope of victory, Southampton took centre stage in manufacturing these fighting machines. The Luftwaffe dropped 2,300 bombs in three devastating raids and the Woolston Supermarine Spitfire factory was destroyed. A story of chaos, courage and community spirit emerged in Southampton and was brilliantly displayed in The Shadow Factory performance. One of Britain’s greatest living play writes, Hampshire born Howard Brenton tells the remarkable and little known story of how Southampton stepped up when the chips were down. 

The performance is in two parts and will be running until 2nd March 2018 and we highly recommend you go and see this amazing spectacle, it included a 25 strong community chorus made up of Southampton residents and conceived by Theatre director Samuel Hodges and world renowned 59 productions. We recommend having a look what’s on at NST City and go along and have a look for yourself.

By Blake Hopley - Editor and Director LOOP Magazine  


NST Laboratory & NST Connect

The NST Laboratory is the creative development programme for new work and new talent, through which NST collaborates with artists at all stages in their careers to experiment with new ideas. NST Connect aims to enrich the experience of NST and its work for all, through a vibrant programme of engagement. NST Connect reaches over 17,000 people through a programme of creative activities, Youth Theatre and Drama Club and adult workshops and outreach projects including RSC Open Stages.

NST is an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation and a registered charity, receiving additional core funding from the University of Southampton and Southampton City Council. In 2015 NST was awarded Regional Theatre of the Year at the Stage Awards. In 2017, NST won The Renee Stepham Award for Best Presentation of Touring Theatre for its band new adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox, in co-production with Curve Leicester and in association with Lyric Hammersmith at the UK Theatre Awards.

John Hansard Gallery

John Hansard Gallery, part of Arts at University of Southampton, is an internationally recognised and locally engaged contemporary art gallery in Southampton. In May 2018 the Gallery will relocate to the new purpose-build art complex studio 144 in Southampton City Centre, significantly increasing exhibition space, events and integrated programming.

In advance on the official opening of the John Hansard Gallery Studio 144 launched with Southampton Celebrates on the 16th of February 2018. The City centre Gallery will dramatically increase opportunities for the public to experience and be inspired by great art, as well as for creative collaboration with its new cultural neighbours in Studio 144 – City Eye and Nuffield Southampton Theatres – and public engagement with researchers at University of Southampton.


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