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The University of Southampton

Forty years of award-winning theatre on University campus

Published: 5 May 2004

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Nuffield Theatre at the University of Southampton, and to celebrate this a special gala performance is taking place on Monday 10 May.

The anniversary event will feature a performance of Friedrich Schiller's acclaimed play Mary Stuart, directed by the Nuffield's Artistic Director, Patrick Sandford. A number of friends and supporters of the Nuffield over the last 40 years will be gathered at a reception prior to the performance. Among the guests will be Sir Michael Gambon, a honorary graduate of the University, who is starring as Professor Dumbledore in the upcoming Harry Potter film, The Prisoner of Azkaban.

The Nuffield Theatre was founded in 1964 when the University of Southampton received a gift from the Nuffield Foundation to build a theatre on its campus for the people of Southampton. Since then, it has become a leading player in British theatre creating many award-winning productions and tours internationally.

University Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kate McLuskie commented: "Over the 40 years of its existence, the Nuffield Theatre, has built a fine reputation for its excellent productions and innovative work. It has kept alive an important tradition of creating new productions, has built a following among theatre audiences and is regularly and enthusiastically reviewed in the national press. The University of Southampton is proud to have the Nuffield on our campus. It is a terrific facility for our students and for the regional community. We look forward to its next 40 years."

Nuffield Administrative Director, Kate Anderson, praised the University for its support of the arts, saying: "Thanks to the University's vision, students and Southampton residents have the benefit of three major arts institutes on the University's campus. The Nuffield Theatre produces acclaimed theatre that tours nationally and internationally. The Turner Sims Concert Hall presents an excellent music programme, and the John Hansard Gallery is one of Britain's leading public galleries of contemporary visual art. Today the Nuffield is an independent organisation creating theatre in Southampton that plays alongside the best in the world. Without the University's inspiration or continued support this achievement would not have been possible."

The production of Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart is the highlight of the Nuffield's season marking its anniversary year. It tells the story of Mary Queen of Scots, who fled to England in 1568, where, as Catholic heir to the English throne, as well as the Scottish Queen, she posed a serious threat to her cousin, Elizabeth I. She was imprisoned in Fotheringay Castle for 19 years and condemned to death and the play centres on whether or not her cousin will carry out the sentence.

Notes for editors

  1. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University has over 19,200 students and 4,800 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £250 million.
  2. The University plays an important role in the Southampton region and the arts play an essential role in linking the University to local and regional communities. Since the foundation of the Nuffield Theatre in 1964, the University has actively supported and promoted the arts, and the Nuffield is now one of three internationally celebrated arts venues which are hosted on the Highfield Campus. The Turner Sims Concert Hall is one of the country's leading venues for chamber music, and the John Hansard Gallery has forged a reputation for exciting and innovative shows of the avant-garde.
  3. The Nuffield Theatre became an independent charitable trust in 1982. Funded by the Arts Council England South East, Southampton City Council, The University of Southampton and Hampshire County Council, the Nuffield produces theatre for its main stage and studio spaces, as well as running an acclaimed education department, and touring children's theatre to local schools and arts centres.
  4. Mary Stuart runs until Saturday 15 May at the Nuffield. To book tickets contact the Nuffield Theatre box office on (023) 8067 1771.
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