Theatre Porto launches new £2.8m centre in Cheshire


Whitby Hall in Ellesmere Port - home to Theatre Porto, including the new theatre (on the left), opening on August 10. Pics: Jake Ryan
Whitby Hall in Ellesmere Port - home to Theatre Porto, including the new theatre (on the left), opening on August 10. Pics: Jake Ryan

Long-established young people's theatre company Action Transport has morphed into Theatre Porto and from August 10 is welcoming everyone to its new base at Whitby Hall in Ellesmere Port, which houses a new £2.8m theatre and culture centre

Funded by Cheshire West, Chester Council and Arts Council England, the new venue is the only specialist, purpose-built theatre and cultural centre for the young in the county, and one of a small number across England. The performing company's new name – Theatre Porto – was chosen following consultation with local young people.

For 35 years Action Transport has created professional theatre for, by and with children, working with schools and other organisations to create work that tours the UK.

Victorian mansion Whitby Hall was given to Cheshire West and Chester Council and has been home to Action Transport Theatre since the 1980s. Its transformation was designed by the Manchester studio of London's Bennetts Associates which also designed central Chester's Storyhouse venue.

Whitby Hall's new 150-seat auditorium
Theatre Porto's's new 150-seat auditorium

Whitby Hall now has a 150-seat flexible auditorium for performances and film screenings (it's also technically capable of National Theatre Live and similar screenings); rehearsal rooms; workshop rooms; a temporary gallery, spaces for artists, and a new café with an outdoor terrace.

The development also includes a 300-seat amphitheatre in Whitby Park, open all year round, in which Theatre Porto will host its summer programme of free events.

Opening season highlights include the Once Upon A time Arts Trail (August 10-20) – a free programme of activity indoors and out, based on a series of installations in and around the park.

From October 20: Chronicles of Atom and Luna (nominated for a Prix Europa Award) is an interactive fairy tale with words from poet Murray Lachlan Young (suitable for age 7 and above).

From December 6: Star of Wonder, co-created with Teatro Pomodoro and children from local schools, is an original festive show. All performances will be "relaxed".


Find out more here