Cornish Roots Redevelopment Project Theatre


Time flies when you’re having fun, and we’ve been having plenty since our grand re-opening!

In October 2021, we flung open our doors to eager audiences as Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical made its world premiere on our stage, and marked the beginning of a new era for the Cornwall Playhouse.

As we look back on that time when the stage fell silent while we worked hard behind the scenes, it seems like only yesterday that our auditorium swapped out audiences for workmen, and the sound of music for the sound of drilling… but it was all worth it in the end!

And after that quiet time (that lasted a little longer than we’d hoped because of a worldwide pandemic), we welcomed you back into the Cornwall Playhouse to celebrate more than just our transformation, but the joy of being together again.

As audiences filed in with audible gasps and words of praise for the newly improved Hall for Cornwall, the evening continued to be filled with surprises, as Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical took to the stage – and the real Fisherman’s Friends joined them for the final song! This was a monumental moment for us all, as this was our first Cornwall Playhouse production, and a co-production with ROYO.

‘Every night the audience was packed and on their feet and singing, it was the most extraordinary experience, and this just brings it back.’

– Robert Duncan who plays Jago reminisces of the first tour

After a sellout world tour, we welcomed the return of this feel-good, life affirming story to our stage again in April 2023, to the delight of Cornish folk everywhere!

Let’s take a look back on the day Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical came home to Cornwall, 18 months after its debut performance at the newly renovated Hall for Cornwall.

Tuesday 11th April…

The celebrations began in our local pub, The Old Ale House, where some of the cast met the Fisherman’s Friends band for a drink and a sing-along – much to the surprise of locals popping in for a pint!

BBC Spotlight joined in with the occasion and interviewed some of the cast while they were there, which you can watch below…


Afterwards, the cast went back to their dressing rooms to prepare for opening night. And what a night it was!

As our audience welcomed the return home of this beautifully Cornish production, our auditorium was filled with laughter, tears, and cast-iron sense of community.

Whether you know the music, you’ve seen the films, or this is your first time ever hearing a shanty, you can’t help but be moved. There’s something magical about the way the songs have been passed down from generation to generation. The words transport you through time, like a lyrical history book, reminding you of the hardworking communites that form the backbone of Cornwall’s history – and continue to thrive today!

As the storyline explores the challenges of the modern world to fisherfolk and our small seaside villages, there is a constant reminder that we have something in Cornwall that nobody can take away. Our communities are more like families, and no matter how much time goes by, you’ll always find us, singing our stories, in a village by the sea.

‘When I’m not here, it’s Hereth, that longing for the place where you belong.’

– Susan Penhaligon who plays Maggie

With each song, the words had us floating across timezones and generations, like a lyrical history book, bearing witness to the hardworking communities that form the backbone of Cornwall. We could hear our ancestors singing their hearts out, out on the waves as they raised their nets, and deep underground, carving their tools into the earth, searching for copper and tin. These songs keep them alive, and remind us of where we came from.

And of course – there were a few Oggy Oggy Oggy’s!

The evening drew to a close when the Fisherman’s Friends band took to the stage in a special appearance. Their beautiful, sping-tingling rendition of Cornwall My Home made us proud to be Cornish 〓〓

‘One of the reasons I’m doing this is to play the Hall for Cornwall… I think they just get it, they get the jokes, they get the accents, they get the expressions…they just get it all.’

– Susan Penhaligon

Thank you to the cast and crew of Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical for another spectacular production, and to the real Fisherman’s Friends for inspiring so many with their story.

And above all, thank you to you, our devoted audiences, for reminding us time and time again of the joy of live performance.

Photos by Hugh Hastings Photography

Redevelopment Project Theatre

Our First Public Open Day

Following the success of our first Open Day, work is progressing really well on our redevelopment project. The temporary roof has been removed and Kier are now laying the new roof insulation. Work is also taking place to install roof lights in the upper mezzanine areas, and the natural ventilation system in the auditorium.
Our new building, which will provide 300 more seats within the three-tiered auditorium, an unveiled heritage, lively bars and cafés and a creative digital hub with vibrant work and social spaces, remains on schedule to re-open in Autumn 2020.  So far we have raised just over 90% of the funding required for our transformation. We now need to raise the remaining £2.2million to fully realise our ambitions.
We officially launched our community fund raising campaign just after Easter with a 5km fun run at the Eden Project. We were joined by teams of energetic runners from companies and organisations from across Cornwall who braved the Cornish mizzle and steep hills of the Eden Project to raise money to help us create our exciting new theatre. A huge thank you to HFC supporter Julian Jenkins for organising the event, the teams from Santander, Bishop Fleming Chartered Accountants, Stephens Scown, Kier, Miller Commercial, and Kepak for putting on their trainers, and the large numbers of supporters who came to cheer everyone around the course.
We will be announcing further fund raising initiatives over the next few months so visit our website and Facebook page to find out how you can get involved. We are also planning to be at this year’s Royal Cornwall Show so come and see us if you are going along.
Last month we signed a new Memorandum of Understanding with Falmouth University setting out our shared commitment to driving the Cornish economy through the promotion of the Creative Industries over the next five years. Cornwall is a very special place with a unique cultural heritage and wealth of creative and entrepreneurial talent. We have always had a positive working relationship with Falmouth University and, as part of the MOU, we will be strengthening this relationship and using our networks, infrastructure and knowledge capital to transform Cornwall’s cultural and economic future.
The MOU focuses on three key areas –People, Places and Business – with specific objectives including developing and retaining local talent, producing and delivering a Culture Strategy for Truro, developing ‘creative clusters’ throughout Cornwall and encouraging new investment to co-finance start-ups and providing support for talented students and entrepreneurs.
Finally, in another piece of good news,  two talented members of our flagship youth programme have been offered places at leading national drama and dance schools for this September. HFC Youth Theatre group member Josh Williams has accepted a place at The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, one of the most prestigious drama schools in the country which was attended by Oscar winning actor Olivia Coleman. At the same time Youth Dance Company member Ned Ratcliffe has secured a place to study dance at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, one of the UK’s leading conservatoires, just a few months after being awarded a place in the National Youth Dance Company.
We are very proud of all of our young people who form part of our youth companies. Our Arts Development team works hard to provide them with the right kind of training and the right kind of experiences to best equip them with the skills and confidence needed to realise their dreams. Congratulations to Josh and Ned and we will wish them great success in their careers in the arts.

Associate Artists HFC Youth Dance HFC Youth Theatre Live Performance Redevelopment Project Resident Companies

Supporting Artists and the Arts

Supporting Artists and the Arts

by Julien Boast, HFC CEO & Creative Director

Although the theatre is now closed to the public for our exciting and ambitious redevelopment project, our Arts Development team are still very much open for business, continuing to support professional artists and working with schools and young people to bring arts to local communities across Cornwall. Thanks to support from the Arts Council, Cornwall Council and the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, our Arts Development work spans the entire county with opportunities created for individuals to perform and create in diverse theatre spaces including care homes, schools and colleges, village halls, museums, galleries and gardens.

The last few weeks have been incredibly busy. The team have attended the Royal Shakespeare Company Play Making Festival with students from Treviglas, Brannel, Redruth, Humphry Davy, Liskeard & Callington schools performing on the RSC’s main stage; delivered workshops for youngsters from Pondhu and St Breward primary schools and held “end of term” pop up and performance events for our Youth Dance and Theatre Companies at The Burrell Theatre and Perranporth Beach.

As we reflect back on the last 6 months, highlights have included work on 26 Creation Space projects, week long residencies in 17 local venues allowing professional artists to develop and test new work and the staging of Nick Darke’s ‘Hell’s Mouth’ by members of the HFC Youth Theatre, which was critically acclaimed as ‘THE BEST YOUTH THEATRE SHOW EVER SEEN’. Many of the young people taking part in this production have been members of our Youth Theatre for many years, using the opportunity and experience gained with us as a spring board for working with other professional companies or indeed pursuing a career in the arts. This year’s graduation cohort has seen 8 young people go on to either drama or dance schools or studying performance at a higher level.

Talent Development of professional artists is a key focus for us with the team offering mentoring support and encouraging artists to reflect on the work they have done in the past and talk about what they would like to accomplish going forward. Over the last six months, we have supported 160 artists through one to one sessions including our Associate Artists, such as Jethro Compton who is currently The Little Princess in Vienna and Emily Dobson who recently worked as choreographer on WildWorks’ 100: UnEarth at The Lost Gardens of Heligan.

Whilst we continue to prepare our building to hand over to the building team, the Arts Development team will be working tirelessly across the community to ensure that the power of performance can continue to inspire, educate and be enjoyed. Coming to an unusual performance space near you soon……


Get Involved Redevelopment Project

Hall For Cornwall Trustees

This month HFC has welcomed three new trustees to its Board. Alan Davey CBE, the controller of BBC Radio 3; Vin Govender a leading technology and business expert; and James Bennett, a former HFC staff member, have attended their first meeting as formal members of the Hall for Cornwall Board of Trustees.

Initially set up during the 1990’s to lead the fund-raising campaign to create Hall For Cornwall, members of the board have played a key role in developing the theatre and setting the overall direction of the organisation during the past 30 years.

Our current trustees, led by joint chairs Chris Pomfret OBE and Dame Rosemary Squire DBE, have worked closely with the HFC leadership team to develop our plans to refurbish the building and theatre, and secure the funding we need to deliver our ambitious £20 million redevelopment project.

They join an illustrious list of former trustees, including Dennis Arbon MBE, former Chair and President of the Board who donated Upton Towans beach to Hall For Cornwall to help raise funds to support the theatre; David Brierley CBE, former general manager of the Royal Shakespeare Company; actor Jenny Agutter OBE; international soprano and music teacher Wendy Eathorne; Sue Hill, founder of WildWorks; James, Lord St Aubyn; Peter Davies MBE DL, now Chair of the Cornwall Maritime Museum, and film producer Martin Schute who is remembered for bringing in the Oscar awarded to cinematography for Fiddler on the Roof for display in the foyer when the film was shown in the venue.

It is fantastic to see the enthusiasm of our new trustees for the redevelopment project and we are looking forward to working with them during this next phase of our journey.

So who are our new trustees?

Alan Davey CBE

Vin Govender

James Bennet

Alan was appointed as controller of BBC Radio 3 in January 2015 following six years as Chief Executive of Arts Council England. Before then he worked at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, the Department of National Heritage and the Department of Health. A passionate music fan, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to the arts in 2015.

Alan describes himself on Twitter as a “northern bloke who thinks the arts really do matter.”  He says he has long admired our success in bringing fantastic performances and championing  Cornish artists and is delighted to support us in achieving our aim of serving the people of Cornwall in an even better way in the future.

Vin has extensive experience in using new technologies to help businesses to grow and has worked with companies in the UK, US, Australia and mainland Europe. He has also been involved with building new theatres and major capital refurbishment projects and will be bringing his expertise to help us to enhance the experience for our customers, both on and off the stage.

James was a member of staff at HFC and has previously been the staff representative on the Board. He is passionate about the theatre and acting and has worked as a supporting artist on a number of film and TV series. We are delighted he will now be bringing his passion and enthusiasm to support our exciting plans for the future.

As you know ours is a very ambitious as well as a very exciting project. While 90% of the £19.8m re-build target has been raised, we still need to raise a further £1.8m to turn our aspirations for a new theatre a reality. Over the coming months we will be launching a series of initiatives for people to get involved and support our project and our trustees will be supporting our fund raising campaign.

History Redevelopment Project

Hall For Cornwall Redevelopment – a month on since closure

Clearing the venue, yard sales & the loan of our grand piano

by Julien Boast, HFC CEO & Creative Director

It is hard to believe it is just over a month since The People’s String Foundation Orchestra staged their spectacular closing performance which had the audience up on their feet and dancing in the aisles. It was an amazing evening and I would like to thank everyone who joined us to mark the next chapter of our incredible journey to transform our theatre and build a new home.

I would also like to thank our staff who maintained their professionalism, passion and commitment for Hall For Cornwall right up to closure. It has been a challenging time for teams and I am pleased that so many took advantage of our training and support programme in the lead up to closure. We wish everyone lots of luck and look forward to staying in touch during the redevelopment.

As we prepare to formally hand over the keys to the building team next month, we have been packing up furnishings and technical equipment ready to go into storage. We have donated some equipment to local theatre companies and a local sheltered housing project. Our Steinway piano has been loaned to St Marys Church in Penzance and our upright piano to St Ives parish Church. Over the last month, we have held daily ‘Yard’ sales of other items. These have included kitchen equipment, tables and chairs, cups and saucers, wardrobe and props, desks and filing cabinets through to pairs of theatre seats.

We have seen many people buying items as mementoes of their visits to the theatre – one couple bought a pair of theatre seats for ‘cinema & popcorn’ nights when their grandchildren visit. Thank you to everyone who has helped support our ongoing fundraising campaign by buying something from the sale. I would particularly like to thank Truro Bid and all the local businesses for their support.

It has been wonderful hearing people’s memories of visiting us and receiving their good wishes for the renovation. Many have told us they can’t wait to visit the new building when it is completed in two years’ time and we share this excitement.

In the meantime, although we have raised 90% of our £19.8m re-build target, there’s still a way to go to make our aspirations for a new theatre a reality. Over the coming months we’ll be launching a series of initiatives for people to get involved and support our project and we hope we can count on you to play a part in our exciting next chapter.

Redevelopment Project

Transforming Hall For Cornwall

Transforming Hall For Cornwall

On 2 June 2018, Hall For Cornwall will close for 20 months for an ambitious and much-needed refurbishment of our theatre, seeking to safeguard the heritage of the building and transform the venue into a dynamic and high-quality environment that will give the people of Cornwall access to the best performing arts to rival any city in the country.

After six years of planning, we are thrilled that funding is now in place to move forward with this exciting project that will see the auditorium increase in size, enabling us to attract top West End shows and promote and support creative talent, alongside developing our work with schools and young people. In addition, there will be a new cafe and bar, a Heritage Lottery funded project and new digital creative business hub, which will combine together to create a venue that will continue to inspire, educate and be enjoyed.

Upon the foundations of our existing site, we will unveil the history and heritage of our Grade II* listed building and create a new theatre within, alongside improved café, bar & public spaces. Our new home will be a vital community asset and one which will continue to inspire, engage, educate entertain and challenge all audiences, firmly placing us at the heart of Truro’s cultural and economic offering and securing our long-term future.

Our final and celebratory performance to conclude this chapter in our history will be Saturday 2 June 2018. Local Cornish band The People’s String Foundation Orchestra will be celebrating the last two decades and helping us to raise the curtain on the future. It is anticipated that the newly refurbished theatre will open 2020.

Over the last two decades, our venue has played an important part in raising the standards and expectations of performance in Cornwall and, having worked closely with many partners and members of the public to develop our ambitious rebuild plans, we are confident that we can deliver a world class venue that Cornwall deserves and that the community will be proud of in the years to come.

We look forward to welcoming you on our journey.