A THEATRE has reopened in Bournemouth to “breathe new life into the town centre” after the curtains were last drawn 40 years ago. 

Bournemouth's historic Palace Court Theatre in Hinton Road has reopened by Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) after it was bought in 2020. 

The town’s last surviving 1930s art deco theatre has reopened just in time for the spring theatre season starting with the production of The Ballad of Maria Marten. 

AUB is hoping to reactivate the Palace Court Theatre as a venue for educational and cultural engagement with a teaching space, a 400-seat auditorium, interval bar and rehearsal space. 

Professor Paul Gough, principal and vice-chancellor at AUB, said: “Substantial refurbishment has already been undertaken at the theatre and will continue as AUB creates a space in Bournemouth town centre for students and the community to enjoy creativity and connection.  

“And by using the spaces that have already been refurbished, the venue will be able to host a full programme of educational and cultural events.” 

Meanwhile, AUB’s production of The Ballad of Maria Marten is described as a “thought-provoking” play by Beth Flintoff, directed by the internationally acclaimed Luke Kernaghan. 

Performed last month, the play offered a perspective on a harrowing true crime from 1827, exploring themes of love, loss and societal power dynamics. 

Following The Ballad of Maria Marten, audiences also watched La Casa Nova, a comedy by Carlo Goldoni and directed by Ken Robertson.  

William Shakespeare's beloved comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Aileen Gonsalves is set to be performed on stage from May 30 to June 1. 

Creative producer Jonny Hoskins said: “We are thrilled to present our spring 2024 theatre season at the Palace Court Theatre.  

“These productions showcase the high-quality talent and dedication of our students.” 

Nicky Cartlidge, Palace Court Theatre manager, added: “As Arts University Bournemouth continue its transformation project on the newly owned Palace Court Theatre, it offers a fantastic platform for showcasing talent from the university and providing the local community with more opportunities to enjoy live performances in the town centre.” 

Tickets start from just £4 and can be purchased online from aub.ac.uk/aub-productions. Group booking discounts and concession tickets are available.