Rooted in its local community the theatre touches over 130,000 people in Colchester and the surrounding area each year through the vibrant and broad programme we stage across two auditoria, and through community education partnerships.
Under the Made in Colchester brand, the Mercury creates theatre which reaches audiences and generates critical attention regionally and nationally. The Mercury is a champion of regional arts, both as an active co-producer with other venues and companies and also touring our own productions to audiences across the UK.
Born out of the Colchester Repertory Company in 1937, we have been creating theatre at our current site since 1972. Our Main Theatre and Studio Theatre seat a combined total of 586. On-site production and workshop facilities create sets, props and costumes for both for in-house productions and touring companies, including the National Theatre.
With a turnover of £3.7m annually, the Mercury is a significant local employer and a major driver of the restaurant and hospitality economy in Colchester. The Mercury is a welcoming theatre with award-winning customer service, and a proven track record of attracting people into theatre for the first time.
The Made in Colchester programme, together with our Community and Education team and apprenticeships, incubate and nurture new talent in all areas of theatre.
The venue provides a relevant space for a diverse group of people, all of whom feel ownership over it and who engage with its spaces in a variety of ways, from attending performances to participating in outreach and education programmes. It is a centre for creativity and a space for creation. It is open and welcoming, working with a variety of voices and a diversity of communities, audiences, artists and staff.
Our vision is of a theatre that touches the lives of all the people of Colchester and its surrounding area, contributes regionally to the development of new talent and new audiences, and carves out a truly national reputation for the quality of the work that it makes.
HISTORY OF THE MERCURY THEATRE
The Colchester Repertory Company was formed in 1937 by Robert Digby and Beatrice Radley and mostly offered weekly productions at the Albert Hall in the High Street.
This continued until 1963 until the arrival of David Forder as Manager. The company then gained considerably in professional stature and theatre acquired a more significant role in Colchester’s arts provision.
In 1968, the Colchester New Theatre Trust was formed to identify a site for a new theatre and to oversee its constructions. The Mercury Theatre, designed by Norman Downie, was opened on 10th May 1972, after a successful fund-raising campaign, supported by a large grant from the Borough Council.
David Buxton, the first Artistic Director, was succeeded by Michael Winter in 1984. After David Forder’s retirement as Administrative Director in late 1990, Michael became Artistic Director and Chief Executive. In May 1994, Pat Trueman succeeded him in the joint role, until 1998. Adrian Stokes joined as Associate Director in 1995 and initiated the Community Education Programme. In 1998 Dee Evans arrived as Chief Executive and Gregory Floy as Artistic Producer. Together, in 1999, they formed the Mercury Theatre Company with Gregory as Artistic Director. The Company quickly achieved national recognition, and was the recipient of several awards. After Gregory left in 2003, Dee became both Chief Executive and Artistic Director.
In 2012 a new leadership team took over at the Mercury when Daniel Buckroyd was appointed Artistic Director, leading the theatre in an exciting new direction.
Following Daniel Buckroyd’s departure in 2018, the theatre is now led by Executive Director Steve Mannix and Executive Producer Tracey Childs as it approaches an exciting redevelopment project: Mercury Rising.