Disused Bristol railway tunnels to be turned into theatre

The Stick House will run in the tunnels from September 7 The Stick House will run in the tunnels from September 7
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Railway tunnels in Bristol that date back 175 years are to be transformed into a new performance space.

The underground venue, which will be called the Lo-co Klub, is located in the arches beneath Bristol’s Temple Meads station, built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the 1840s.

The disused tunnels have been revamped by local companies Artspace Lifespace and Invisible Circus, which have previously worked together on site-specific projects in the city and will jointly manage the venue.

Plans include staging theatre, dance, circus, music and cabaret in the venue, which will showcase work by local companies and will open in September with a new multi-genre show.

The Stick House has been created by theatre collective Raucous. It is written by Sharon Clark, who is also creative director of the company, and directed by Anna Ledwich. The production will run from September 7 to October 17.

The tunnels have the capacity to host around 400 people, but the first production will seat 50, with the idea of building up audience capacity as the space is developed further.

Invisble Circus’ founder Doug Francisco said: “As a company we have our own passion for underused and unusual spaces and we really like bringing those spaces back to life, making stories out of them.”

“These arches are around 175 years old and have been unused for a considerable length of time so it’s very exciting,” he added.

Francisco also explained that the first production would be a “kickstarter” for a full programme that he hopes will be in place from early 2016, creating a long-term future for the tunnels.

Additional rooms off the tunnels themselves also add scope for promenade pieces as well as more site-specific work.