Commissioned by Warwick School’s Head Master, Dr Philip Cheshire in 1998, The Bridge House Theatre was designed by Michael Reardon Associates. It was opened in 2000 by Dame Judi Dench and the first Theatre Manager Wallace McDowell, joined the team to develop a mixture of school and professional touring productions. Richard Cooper joined as technical director in 2002 bringing a wealth of experience and the same year Bronwyn Robertson and Alison Sutcliffe (who had worked together at the RSC) developed The Bridge Project. This unique programme produced two professional plays per year drawing on an association of professional actors and theatre makers. Paul Griffiths was succeeded as Theatre Manager by Bronwyn Robertson in 2007 until 2011 when David Guilding took over the role.
Mike Perry joined the School as Director of Drama in 2006 working closely with the resident professional team. In 2007 Judy Reaves became Resident Designer for School and Bridge Project productions. Alongside teaching staff and the professional team a rich programme of curriculum related activities for Warwick School and the wider community peaked with ‘The Practice of Theatre’; a workshop day for 100 local young people.
Over 6 years The Bridge Project produced a dynamic range of plays including: The Tempest (2005), An Inspector Calls (2006), Educating Rita (2007), Death of a Salesman (2009) and A Christmas Carol (2009).
2007 saw the School’s Drama Department achieve national recognition when its production Victims of Duty (Ionesco) won two awards at the National Student Drama Festival. This significant achievement was made even more significant given Warwick’s production was the only cast of school age actors.
In 2008 we appointed our first Theatre Intern, Penelope Watson. The role enabled a recent graduate to gain valuable professional experience working alongside the resident team. Four interns were appointed in this way, Sarah Ware, Jessica Stevens and Naomi Vandermolen all brought their own creative energies to the theatre and supported the now very considerable range of work.
In 2010 Warwick School hosted the National Independent Schools Drama Association Conference and later that year Mike became the association’s Chairman until 2014.
David Guilding left as Theatre Manager in 2013 to take over the running of the Spa Centre in Leamington and Michelle Broomhead took on the role with her background in school-based theatre management until 2015.
Over the years The Bridge House Theatre has built up an enviable reputation as a centre of excellence, presenting professional work alongside and integrated with the best in theatre for young people, many of whom have gone on to develop their own professional careers in the performing arts.