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Guild of Players, Dumfries

We have had a busy start to 2014. Since the 7th January we have met 4 times a week to begin the monumental task of removing everything from the Theatre Royal building. A building we have lived in for 54 years. That’s a lot of everything! We are surrounded by one ton sacks, palettes loaded with boxes, cardboard boxes etc,etc,etc. and what do you do with the things that don’t fit in a box? I won’t answer that! We continue to spend every Tuesday, during the day and Wednesday evenings, packing, sorting, labeling and recording.

We were lucky to secure temporary premises at the Crichton Royal site, a disused ward which has about 16 rooms and 2 large day rooms. We have leased the building at a reasonable rent, for a year with the option to lease month by month after that. This building also gives us space to allow the Junior Group to continue meeting twice a week and a place for our regular Committee meetings.

Robert Burns has watched over the performances in the Theatre since we acquired the building in 1960. We felt that he may not be safe during the building works. On a Saturday a few weeks ago he was lifted down from his plinth and ceremonially piped out of the Theatre. The local Burns Howff Club agreed to look after him for us during the works period. Luckily for Burns their meeting place is the Globe Inn, a place where he spent a lot of time and even scratched a poem on one of the windows. We are sure he will feel at home!!

We hope in the near future to put together a programme that we will be able to take to smaller venues round the Dumfriesshire area. Our director’s committee are working on that at the moment. We have also lodged an interest with the National Theatre to take part in their 24 hour, 5 minute theatre event. Several of our members will write for us on the topic of “Independence”.

The £1.9m project is being supported by the Holywood Trust, Dumfries and Galloway Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Creative Scotland, the Robertson Trust, Monument Trust, Historic Scotland and a number of smaller trusts and individuals. Interestingly every funder we have approached has agreed to support the project.

Last week Heritage Lottery Fund announced that they have awarded us a grant of £322,300.

In the coming months we hope work will start to transform our Theatre. We are also restructuring the management in order to secure a long term sustainable future for the Theatre Royal.

We look forward to seeing our building transformed.