Thornden Hall Re-opens!
Thornden Hall reopened on Friday 17th September after a 3-year closure due to a large structural beam failing in the roof. Here's what Hellen Smith (Head of Performing Arts) & Su Whelan (CEO of the HISP Multi Academy Trust & Exec Head of Thornden School) had to say about the evening.
Last Friday we were, at last, able to re-open Thornden Hall with a showcase celebration event inviting parents of performers, school staff, governors and other invited guests to see the first show of any description in Thornden Hall for 3 years. It was a great success and enjoyed by both students and audience.
You will be aware of the challenges we have faced since the main beam in the hall failed. Working relentlessly to establish the funding and to ensure the repairs left us with the ability to use the hall at least as well as we have done previously, with students, groups linked to the school and the wider community. Thornden Hall has always sat at the heart of the school and community and in the last three years have faced real challenges, with most of our students not having had the ability to go into the hall, let alone perform in it. There was noticeable excitement, not least from myself as we saw the new beam installed and then the hall start to be rebuilt. From there, we started to believe we would reopen and initiate plans for the future.
The damage that the beam failure caused made the overhead rig unusable and unsafe. Props, supports and scaffolding went into and through the main floor, baffles and seats were damaged and the hall was in a very sorry state. When you now sit in the hall, it will feel like the hall of 5 years ago, but on closer inspection, the seats you sit on have been refurbished, the flooring and stage area replaced, several of the baffles are new, the main beam, now steel and covered, is visible in a way it was not before. The rig has been replaced to ensure functionality and ease of use, so those of you that look up will see something quite different.
The showcase was put together by our Performing Arts department working with current students through the back end of the summer term and rehearsing in the most difficult circumstances while still under COVID restrictions. Having done this, we now move towards a range of events that will take place through the year.
Congratulations to all involved with the show and I am equally as excited to see performances and shows as we move through the year.
The Performing Arts department can’t stop looking at this photo; we’ve dreamed about this moment for over three years, and to be back in Thornden Hall producing a production again was a magical experience for us all. Our cast and crew of Years 10 & 11 were wonderful; I’m so proud of everything that they achieved in such a short space of time to create such a professional production. It goes without saying that the process was not easy, but the students remained consistently up-beat and positive even when the necessary restrictions placed on us due to Covid meant that the rehearsals were staggered and groups had to be separated. I’d like to thank the students for their commitment during production week as their hard-working ethos ensured that the final two days of rehearsal was focused and energetic. The production they created by the evening on Friday was exceptional both on and off stage. Back stage ran like clockwork (well done Stage Crew!) and the camaraderie between the performers as they complimented and supported each other was a joy to watch. Congratulations everyone – you fully deserved this standing ovation!
Mrs Hellen Smith, Head of Performing Arts
“Performing in Thornden Hall was one of the best experiences. For me, performing is a great way to show my confidence as well as doing something I thoroughly enjoy.” Emily B, Performer
“Thank you for the amazing experience – it was incredible!” Adam J, Stage Crew.