Hidden in the corner of Plymouth, situated on the River Plym, is the Aladdin’s cave of Theatre. Theatre Royal Plymouth’s Production and Learning Centre, also known as TR2, is one of the city’s most beautiful buildings. Designed by Ian Ritchie, its integrated architectural design into the coast leaves you in awe as soon as you arrive.
Opened on 6th May 2003 by Prince Edward, it is celebrating its 20th year this month. Its success has been exceptional over these years, and it is clear to see why when you explore the space. TR2 is the epicentre of everything that the Theatre Royal Plymouth outputs, ranging from being home to the Young Company (Theatre Royal’s youth companies) to building sets for Olivier award winning productions, such as My Neighbour Totoro. However, its main importance is the role it plays within the local theatre ecology, serving as a hub for creatives to develop work by offering the use of the spaces to trial their ideas.
TR2 houses three rehearsal spaces, each of the spaces are similar in size to the performances at Theatre Royal Plymouth (TRP). This unique offering is the reason that some of the biggest production companies choose TR2 to create their work. Companies such as Matthew Bourne’s will often open a tour at TRP as they can utilise a rehearsal space that is similar to The Lyric, the main stage at TRP, making the transfer seamless from rehearsal to performance.
The three rehearsal spaces are each positioned on the Riverbank, the vast views are a powerful source of creativity, make this the place that creatives want to be. Each of the spaces are also cleverly positioned to allow you to see into the neighbouring rehearsal room, creating a sense of community for all that are in the building, bringing together early career creatives and theatre icons.
The exceptional Talent Development work carried out by TRP, begins at TR2 with the offering of rehearsal space to develop new work for their IdeasLab all the way to creating co-productions with local creatives for Edinburgh Fringe.
Another offering that the space has is its breath-taking wardrobe department. Creating and storing a large range of costumes for productions, it once again offers a unique opportunity for production companies.
The vast costume making facilities allow for high quality costumes to be made for a range of productions. It also offers the unique ability to produce costumes for companies creating work in the rehearsal rooms downstairs. Having this take place on site allows for costume fittings and alterations to be done efficiently, reducing some of the logistical nightmares for producers.
Almost like entering Narnia’s wardrobe, the costume storeroom takes your breath away. Seeing the costumes of some iconic theatre characters and having the opportunity to see the talented craft making that has gone into bringing them to life is amazing.
The workshop space feels like the beating heart of the building, the bustling stations of activity allow you to see stages of taking a design concept to a physical reality. TR2 has created concepts from sets for West-end productions to silk flowers to hang in shopping centres. If you can dream it this space can create it.
Next door to the Workshop is the largest Rehearsal space, the one matching the size of The Lyric stage, this completes the key aim of TR2 to be a one stop shop for theatre. Having the workshop on site allows for the large sets created for UK tours to be trailed out in the rehearsal space before hitting the road.
All these elements combined allow for TR2 to be a truly unique space. It is clear to see why the space is a hit with theatre creatives from all stages of their practise.
On top of all this, the importance that the space plays within the South West is clear to see, and the infrastructure in place it is evident to see why Theatre Royal Plymouth is able to offer one of the biggest educational and outreach programmes in the UK.
If you get the opportunity to visit the space seize it, you will not be disappointed.