Priestley's theatre on the brink of closure

Ian Herbert,North
Thursday 20 February 2014 04:37
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A theatre founded in Bradford by J B Priestley 72 years ago is on the brink of liquidation because of a series of financial catastrophes.

Directors at the theatre, co-founded by Priestley and his step-sister Winnie, are about to sell its £6,000 collection of costumes and even the theatre's remarkable archive of Priestley papers, valued at £800,000, but such moves are likely to be too late to head off creditors. A sum of £14,000 must be raised by October 29, but the archive – which includes an original Priestley script, his diaries and letters – is classed as a treasure of national importance, presenting administrative obstacles to a sale, which could take a year to conclude.

The theatre, which reopened after a fire five years ago, was holding great store by the first performance outside the West End of London of Spoonface Steinberg, a monologue directed by Tim Rogers and written by Lee Hall, creator of the box office hit Billy Elliott. It coincided to the day with the 11 September terror attacks and drew only six people. The week-long run yielded £750 instead of an anticipated £5,000.

Christiaan Hohenzollern, a theatre director, said: "We haven't got any money left and can't struggle on any longer. We have to face facts. Box office sales aren't happening."

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