How to Find Us
Level 2 | The Maltings Shopping Centre | St. Albans AL1 3HL
The Maltings Theatre is next to the Public Library and is easily approached by stairs, lifts or level 2 of the car park.
It’s been another tumultuous year – for the world, for the UK, and for our theatre industry. Looking back, I’m pleased to say that, whilst OVO has faced many challenges, we’ve had a pretty successful 2021 with some great shows, increased profile and further growth. And, unlike last year, when I had to shut the theatre three times, we’ve managed to escape any forced closures over the past twelve months!
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We began the year in (another) lockdown, forcing us to pivot online. Having been among the early pioneers of online theatre, we programmed a Spring streaming season of three shows, this time turning The Maltings Theatre into a film studio for our productions of The Removal Service, The Regina Monologues and Trestle. All three were a great hit with audience and received excellent reviews, with The Regina Monologues and Trestle securing 4 ★★★★ reviews in The Stage, which said Regina “sensitively explores intimate female experiences”.
The summer brought a significantly expanded Roman Theatre Festival, with three in house shows – Peter Pan (completing its performances after the premature Covid termination of the original indoor Christmas run), The Comedy of Errors and The Winter’s Tale. The Financial Times said The Comedy of Errors "is done with zest and good humour and carried along with a genial summertime mood that is hard to resist." LondonTheatre1 commented that The Winter's Tale "shone such light on the script to reveal the story and conveyed the classically tragic elements of it so well." Running for 7 weeks from May to July, we were also pleased to be able to welcome associate companies, including Charles Court Opera, and performances by local community groups including The Byte and St Albans Musical Theatre Company. →→→
We were delighted to have the opportunity to take The Winter’s Tale to the world famous
Minack Theatre in Cornwall in July – our third visit to this stunning location – where we had the privilege of reopening the venue to a full capacity audience for the first time in two years (unfortunately we just missed the G7 leaders by a week or so!). We played 15 sold out performances in mostly glorious sunshine, and it was incredible to be back in front of big crowds again. Those of us who were on stage on the reopening night of 19th July will treasure the memory of that electrifying atmosphere for a very long time to come. →→→
In the Autumn we were finally able to reopen The Maltings to audiences after nearly a year, and it was amazing to find that the demand for bold, imaginative and surprising theatre hasn’t gone away – it ended up being the most successful season we’ve had since we took over the management of the venue a decade ago. Associate companies Dyad Productions, Charles Court Opera and Osman Baig Productions played through September, with our musical in house productions of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Vinegar Tom and Hedda Gabler running through October and November. Number 9 Reviews said that the latter was “the best production of Hedda Gabler to be seen in Britain in the past ten years.” We rounded off the year with an adaptation of The Chimes by Charles Dickens in partnership with St Albans BID which was performed in promenade style around the streets of St Albans in the run up to Christmas, along with a brief stopoff in Woolwich Arsenal in partnership with Tramshed. →→→
We are very pleased to have received wider recognition for our work throughout the year. In April we received our first ever funding from the Arts Council through the Culture Recovery Fund, followed by a second tranche in November. In June our Roman Theatre Festival was featured in the Financial Times pick of UK open air theatres alongside established venues like Shakespeare’s Globe and Regent’s Park open air theatre. In July, The Guardian published a photo essay on our experiences at The Minack Theatre with The Winter’s Tale. Also in June, we received our first ever nominations for the Off West End Awards, with Trestle getting the nod for Best Male Lead Performance in a Play, Best Female Lead Performance in a Play, Best Director and Best Production. And, on a personal note, I was delighted to be named in The Stage 100, the annual list of the most influential figures working in the UK theatre and performing arts industry. →→→
In a year when we’ve all become a bit obsessed about data, our numbers have – I think - been impressive. We’ve played to a combined audience of 22,911 people online (all around the world) and in six different face to face venues. We’ve created 204 employment opportunities for cast and creatives, around a quarter of which have been filled by people from our local area in Hertfordshire. We have some really exciting plans in the pipeline for 2022, so watch this space for some announcements coming in January. →→→
All that remains for me to do is to say an absolutely massive thankyou to our amazing staff, volunteers, trustees, cast, creatives and – above all – everyone who has been to see one of our productions this year. It really has meant so much to all of us to see so many people in the audience at our shows when we know that circumstances are so tough for so many people. At the end of the day, it’s why we do what we do, because theatre is absolutely nothing in an empty room – it is a live artform which requires and relies on that magical relationship between the performers and those watching. Let’s hope that all our theatres will be open – and stay open – throughout the next year and beyond, because we have so many amazing stories to tell, ideas to provoke, songs to sing and laughter to share with you. We can’t wait! Wishing you a very happy new year.