The Gallery Studio Theatre

It is probably every Theatre Company’s dream to have their own performance, rehearsal and meeting space and certainly it is a dream that we at Gallery have cherished for some time now.

So it is with great excitement that we are pleased to announce that our dream has been realised! We have recently agreed terms with Ipswich Borough Council and have taken over what was The New Wolsey Studio, and is now The Gallery Studio Theatre.

We took possession of the building in May and are currently moving in, making it our own and have started rehearsing our first production that will take place in our new home ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’. We hope that you will be as thrilled as we are to embark upon the next exciting phase in the development of Gallery Players.

A short history of the building

The Salem Chapel was constructed in 1812 at a time when Ipswich was an important centre of religious dissension. It is an example of a class of building of which there were many but it is the only one to have survived into the 21st century in more or less it’s original state. It is of sufficient historical and architectural interest therefore to warrant it’s grade 2 listing.

The Chapel was opened on 11th June 1812. It was built at the sole expense of Mr Joseph Chamberlain for £1200 and he conveyed it to trustees for the use of Particular Baptists. At 45′ x 35′, the Salem Chapel was intended to accommodate four hundred people.

After it’s use as a Chapel ended it was a little neglected and eventually became a store for Ipswich Museum which it backs on to. Then in the early 1990’s the towns Wolsey Theatre (and it’s Artistic Director Dick Tuckey) were given permission to convert it to a studio theatre of around 100 seats to complement it’s larger ‘main house’ just down the road on Civic Drive. It was opened in 1992 by Ipswich ‘native’ Sir Trevor Nunn and over the next 27 years, had an important role in the Wolsey’s, and it’s reincarnation the New Wolsey’s output. In 2019 the New Wolsey handed back the lease to Ipswich Borough Council and this is where we became involved! After short negotiations IBC agreed terms with us to take over the lease and we were due to get the keys at the end of March 2020. Unfortunately global events intervened and it was another 14 months until we finally moved in on the 14th May 2021. With restrictions now relaxed we are planning our first show for September 2021, and have a full programme of shows earmarked for 2022.

We are so excited to be keeping the Studio as a live theatre venue and look forward to welcoming you there soon!

(Gallery Studio Theatre may be available to hire, our own use allowing. So if you’d like to enquire about hiring a space for daytime/evening use for classes, corporate events or performance etc please contact us via info@galleryplayers.co.uk)

Originally the ‘Salem Chapel’ built in 1812 it was converted to a Studio theatre in the early 1990’s by the Wolsey Theatre as a complimentary, smaller performance space to their Main House.
The raked seats in the auditorium are on the balcony of the original chapel
Sir Trevor Nunn studying construction photos at the opening of the Wolsey Studio in the early 1990’s – photo courtesy EADT