Immerse Yourself in a Unique Performance in the Heart of Norfolk
If you’re staying in Blakeney and fancy a day trip or some evening entertainment, Westacre Theatre is well worth the visit. It’s the perfect choice if you’re fanatical about films and plays but prefer charming scenery to big city lights.
Ivan Ball, 68, from North Elmham, has been attending Westacre Theatre for as long as he can remember, and is now a part of their team.
Ivan helps Westacre with publicity, including social media, local news and external website promotion. He also organises the art exhibitions in the theatre’s Foyer Gallery, which is of interest to keen visitors.
The theatre started life as a converted village chapel and now offers plenty of opportunities for visitors to be inspired. Ivan says there’s nothing else quite like Westacre.
“I love being at the theatre with its wonderful outlook and friendly people. A warm welcome always awaits you at Westacre. It’s been offering inspiring and creative excellence from the heart of Norfolk for a quarter of a century. It’s probably the only all-year-round rural performance venue in the whole of East Anglia.”
A Hidden Gem
Ivan says that the theatre appeals to locals and holiday-makers alike due to its wide range of events and activities. One thing that pulls visitors together is that they all share an appreciation for theatre and the arts.
Westacre is more than just a stage, despite the fully equipped studio auditorium being central to its all-inclusive approach.
“You find most theatres in towns and cities, where there are lots of people. But Westacre Theatre’s scenic setting is in the rolling Norfolk countryside and comes complete with a lake.
“In the summer, our sheltered South-facing terrace hums with audiences eager with anticipation. A short wander takes you to the walk along the tranquil River Nar.
“Tucked away in peace and solitude, the theatre is one of Norfolk’s best kept secrets. Once found, everyone says how lovely it is and wonders why they didn’t know about Westacre Theatre before.”
Things to See and Do
There’s a dynamic range of events on offer at Westacre Theatre, which are regularly added to their website.
“Our own in-house theatre company regularly performs to great acclaim. The variety extends to plays of immense integrity and magical musicals, to well-known favourites or more challenging dramas. We also have a selection of touring companies who put on one-night shows.
“Our stage productions are complemented by the very best Live and Encore screenings from the likes of the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Globe and Matthew Bourne. Film fans of more mainstream cinema are well catered for under the Wednesday Flicks banner, where there’s a mix of classics and recent releases.”
If that’s not enough, there are plenty of other events throughout the year that will appeal to visitors to the local area.
Westacre offer sought-after art classes, craft master-classes and workshops. There are also weekly drama workshops for six to eighteen-year-olds throughout the year.
The art exhibition displays inspiring art throughout the foyer, new bar and gallery area. You can enjoy the work at performance times, or by arranging beforehand.
“The light and airy Foyer Art Gallery hosts thought-provoking exhibitions by both up-and-coming and more established artists. The artwork will often be the centre of a pre-performance or interval conversation. It all forms part of the Westacre Theatre experience!”
The Theatre’s Background
A charitable foundation oversees the theatre, so all proceeds go to the worthwhile cause of keeping the theatre alive for the next generation. The volunteers, cast and crew at Westacre play a key role in the activities that are offered.
“We are supported by those who volunteer their time for a few hours each month and undertake tasks appropriate to their skills and knowledge.
“Many of the tight-knit team are long-serving troupers; once at Westacre, people tend to stay for the friendship and fulfilment, getting to know regular audience members like long-lost friends.”
Westacre offers a range of delicious food and drink. If you’re having lunch or supper, you should book a table in advance. You can easily do this when you book your seats for your chosen performance.
“The Café-Bar is open at performance times to serve a range of hot and cold drinks. Light lunches are served before the afternoon Wednesday Flicks, while simple suppers are available before most evening shows, whether on stage or screen.
“Many of our visitors like to make a day or evening out of their trip, so the food is a very popular element of their time with us. Sometimes our ingenious caterers create menus to reflect the production, to add that extra something to your experience.”
Visitors can find Westacre Theatre a short distance from the A1065 Fakenham to Swaffham road, marked by brown tourist signs. For satnav users, the postcode is PE32 1UD, but a location map can be found on the website.
“We’re an easy half-hour’s drive from Fakenham through the picturesque Norfolk countryside. We suggest that visitors arrive early to look around and enjoy a drink with us.”
Parking and Disabled Access
There’s plenty of off-road parking available for guests. For those with limited mobility, there are designated spaces by the front door. There’s also a level entrance and floor throughout the foyer and auditorium, and an accessible toilet.
Booking a Performance
You can easily book a performance online, which Ivan recommends as the easiest option. Some performances sell out in advance, while others have limited availability on the day, which you can check out on the website at a glance.
“The online box office lets you choose your favourite seats. With all 80 seats giving you a perfect view of the stage, you are guaranteed to hear every word – there are no restricted views here! The value-for-money ticket prices have to be seen to be believed.”