Date Posted... May 30th 2022


School Archive

Archive Attic: Burrell Theatre

Burrell Theatre opens 30 May 2002

It is 20 years since the Burrell Theatre was formally opened on 30 May 2002 by ‘one of the most well-known personalities in show business’, Sir Tim Rice.

Sir Tim ‘cut a Cornish tartan ribbon and spoke to staff, pupils and guests…before touring the new building – which houses a 250-seat theatre as well as six new classrooms. He said he was extremely impressed by the exciting new facility as well as the young people he met during his visit to the school.

‘He also reminded his audience of how appropriate it was for him to be associated with a school theatre project – his early success ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat’ was written especially for a school production.’

Truro School Newsletter, July 2002

This was the culmination of a £1.6 million project, the largest building project in the school for 10 years. The architects were Lilly Lewarne and the main contractors were Lark Construction. The space was designed to give maximum flexibility for plays, concerts, lectures and meetings, with automated retractable tiered seating.

The theatre was named after former headmaster of Truro School, Derek Burrell (TS 1959-86) who died in 1999. The upper foyer features an etched-glass crest, which was provided as a gift by a former head boy of the school as a dedication of the ‘trust and enthusiasm’ of his then headmaster, Mr Burrell.

The Truro School Society raised money to ‘pay for a comprehensive computerised suite of lighting and sound equipment’. A series of fundraising events raised £24,000, and included a jazz concert, a silent auction, a sponsored swim and benefit performances by Shakespearean actor Richard Moore and folk-rock band Common Ground.

The first performance in the theatre, a jazz concert, was actually held in December 2002. This was followed by the first large-scale drama production, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in March 2003.

The headmaster, Paul Smith, wrote in the alumni newsletter in February 2002 that ‘there have been many highlights in this, my first term, as each occasion and event is special but undoubtedly the new Derek Burrell Theatre has provided a focus for the school as the dreams and hard work of so many come to fruition. We plan a formal opening in the New Year but already this superb auditorium has enhanced our study of drama and been the venue of an outstanding Jazz Concert. In these utilitarian times the value and place of creative arts can be forgotten, so it is even more important that a well-respected and much-loved former Headmaster should be remembered in this distinctive fashion. There is no doubt that this new Theatre will be a catalyst to artistic success in all its various forms. Former pupils are most welcome to visit and marvel at this valued addition to our facilities.’

TSFPA Newsletter, February 2002

Plans for a new theatre were first mooted in the 1963-64 Development Campaign.

‘The New Assembly Hall – Theatre

‘The need for a properly equipped Assembly Hall-Theatre has been felt for many years by all who have known the School intimately. Hitherto the Chapel has been used for cinema shows, assemblies, plays and lectures as well as for religious services – an arrangement which has not been entirely satisfactory.

‘The design of the new Assembly Hall-Theatre is based on experience drawn from many other schools throughout the country. Its effect will be to strengthen the cultural and corporate life of the whole School, and indeed of the whole county. This will make it possible to reserve the Chapel for religious services and thus enrich the spiritual life of the School.

‘This part of the Overall Development Plan is for the moment beyond our reach, but it is considered an essential requirement for the future.’

The original plans incorporated the theatre in the same building as a new sports hall, and would have been on the site of what is now the Astro Turf pitch.


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