The Colchester Repertory Company was formed in 1937 by Robert Digby and Beatrice Radley and offered mainly weekly productions at the Albert Hall in the High Street.
In 1963 David Forder became the Manager and the company’s professional reputation grew considerably and theatre began to play a more significant role in Colchester’s arts offering.
In 1968, the Colchester New Theatre Trust was formed to find a potential site for a new theatre and to oversee construction. The Mercury Theatre, designed by Norman Downie, 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. In late 1990, Michael became Artistic Director and Chief Executive, after David Forder’s retirement as Administrative Director. 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 achieved 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; Daniel Buckroyd was appointed Artistic Director and launched the critically-acclaimed ‘Made in Colchester’ title for Mercury productions. Daniel left the theatre in 2018.
Through an exciting redevelopment project headed Mercury Rising, in 2019 the theatre building closed for extensive refurbishment and transferred to Mercury at Abbey Field, for a short season with new Creative Director Ryan McBryde presenting productions of Oliver! and Cinderella from a big top. Ryan works alongside Joint Chief Executives Tracey Childs (Executive Producer) and Steve Mannix (Executive Director).
The team at the Mercury look forward to welcoming audiences back to the fully refurbished and accessible theatre in 2021. Watch this space.