Bungay’s Fisher Theatre was built in 1828 by David Fisher who also had 12 other theatres around East Anglia: Wells, North Walsham, East Dereham, Swaffham, Thetford, Newmarket, Sudbury, Woodbridge, Eye, Halesworth, Lowestoft, Beccles and the only one remaining as a working theatre is Bungay.
After closing in 1844 the building was sold and used for many purposes. In 1995 ‘the famous five’ Sandra Cox, Sally Hirons, Jan Hughes (a committee member of BDA) Jude Kelsey and John Putman formed the Bungay Arts and Theatre Society with a view to raising enough to purchase the building to return it to its original purpose. The building was purchased in 2001 and the refurbished theatre was re-opened in 2006.
The Architectural Heritage Fund was instrumental in the purchase of the theatre by granting a loan. Over the years they have been extremely cooperative in varying loan repayments and have now very generously made the offer that if the Theatre can raise £150,000 by the end of 2019 the ‘mortgage’ can be paid off and the building will be in BATS (registered charity) ownership.
The theatre is now very much a community theatre. As well as cinema, live concerts, music, bands and drama plus screening of top class ballet, opera and drama from national theatres, there is now on offer Monday morning drop in sessions for anyone who wants to meet other people and have a chat and this is going from strength to strength with all ages attending. Thursday mornings there is an art and craft session for those who have experienced brain trauma or similar problems, who come along with carers, if necessary. New in this programme Tue afternoons, every other week, there are classic old films being shown and these are advertised as dementia friendly. There are also dance, yoga and pilates classes either daytime or evening. There is a writers group who meet weekly and cinema+create once a month for children and adults to watch a film and then experience activities relating to the film. Then of course there is the very successful Fisher Youth Theatre Group which now offers opportunities for children from 4 – 19 to perform. As you know BDA uses the theatre for life drawing classes and there are art exhibitions in the gallery.
Sunday 14 April saw the launch of the ‘Future-Proof the (Last) Fisher Theatre’ campaign. Ways of raising funds are on the website and can be done by text. There are several fund raising events coming up and individuals/organisations are urged to encourage as many people to donate or get involved by organising their own fund raising event.
£3 DAVIDF002 TO 70331
£5 DAVIDF002 TO 70970
£10 DAVIDF003 TO 70191