Arriving in Nottingham can be daunting, and you may want some entertainment. Since a TV License may be a bit too expensive for University students, you may want an alternative form of entertainment: a trip to the theatre (once they are safe to open).
Below is a list of various theatres and performance venues in Nottingham that we recommend checking out during your time here at Trent.
Theatre Royal/Royal Concert Hall
After opening in 1865, this is the main theatre in Nottingham. The Theatre Royal attracts a variety of shows including operas, community shows and big budget touring productions from London’s West End. The theatre is located in the City Centre and isn’t far from the Nottingham Trent City Campus.
If you’re looking for a night out with friends or family when they come to visit, this place guarantees a great night out. The only catch is that tickets might be on the pricey side and shows typically last a week before moving on. The exception is the annual Christmas Pantomime – which has attracted big names including Joe Pasquale and David Hasselhoff.
Alongside the Theatre Royal is the Royal Concert Hall, attracting various orchestras across the UK In Nottingham, there isn’t a major Orchestra such as the Halle and the Birmingham Symphony, but it provides a variety of orchestrated music from Classical to soundtracks from popular media.
The current building opened in 1982 (its first performer was Elton John) after the original 1858 building was demolished. If you’re interested in seeing a concert there, then pick up a student “Go Card” for your time at Uni which will allow you to see any concert there for just £5 a ticket.
Both buildings have a restaurant and bar connecting both venues if you want a bite or drink before the performance, although bars are available on the various levels of the venues.
Originally established in 1948 as a repertory theatre, Nottingham Playhouse is a theatre with a more contemporary approach, showing plays with the occasional musical that change on a monthly basis, including its own pantomime. The current building opened in 1963.
There is also the Neville Studio space for smaller productions. It is located a little further out of the City Centre (at Wellington Circus) and marked with a “sky disc” sculpture just outside.
A restaurant and cafe is connected to the building if you want a bite before the performance.
If you want to see the main shows at the Playhouse, we recommend waiting for the “Pay What You Can” performances where you can pay whatever you want for a ticket that night. Be warned you must be at the door before they open at 10am to guarantee yourself a ticket.
The Motorpoint Arena – located in the Lace Market near the National Ice Centre – was opened in 2000 by Jayne Torvill (yes, Torvill and Dean were from Nottingham). It’s the largest stadium in the East Midlands and holds up to 10,000 people. The Motorpoint arena also hosts the annual Varsity Ice Hockey game between NTU and the University of Nottingham.
Other events the arena has hosted have included shows such as Marvel Live! and comedians such as Jack Whitehall. It’s biggest and most popular events however are for music. Its largest concert was for Little Mix and its most consistent band is Westlife.
Other artists who have performed at the Arena in recent years include Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga, Elton John and even the Queen Musical “We Will Rock You”.
Metronome is one of Nottingham’s newer venues which opened in late 2019. It is owned by Nottingham Trent’s Confetti College and is slowly but surely growing into one of Nottingham’s most popular venues for music, poetry, comedy, theatre and gaming.
One of the venue’s most recent events was hosting the British University E-Sports Winter Championships which saw various university students competing to be the very best in a variety of games such as League of Legends, Overwatch, Super Smash Bros Ultimate and Dota 2. The venue holds up to 400 people. It is growing as a popular gig venue, challenging Rock City.
The New Theatre is the student theatre at the University of Nottingham, based at the University Park Campus. It’s unique because it is the only theatre in the country run entirely by students. The performers are made up of students from a variety of backgrounds, rather than trained professionals.
It is also one of the few theatres working further towards sustainability with no use of printed programmes, and online payments and bookings – tickets only costing £5.
By Stuart McComb
Feature image: Always Time for Theatre