New Studio Theatre plans approved

Curtain up at New Studio Theatre a step closer after planning application approved

  • Residents to benefit from a versatile theatre space and rehearsal rooms
  • New studio theatre planned for up to 300 audience members with multiple performance possibilities,       including in the round
  • Rehearsal and workshop rooms available for community use
  • Accessible entrance and improved public area including a bar and a rooftop terrace

Reading audiences will have the best seats in the house after plans to breathe life into the Hexagon by adding a new studio theatre have been approved by the Council.

Reading Borough Council’s plans include a striking new accessible public entrance with a welcoming public area and flexible community space.

Behind the new front door, a new studio auditorium is set to be built with a capacity of up to 300.

This versatile space, designed by the award-winning Haworth Tompkins architects of London’s Bridge Theatre, will allow for a variety of seating and standing configurations creating opportunities for different kinds of audience participation and enabling a wider range of performances to be staged in the town. The audience will be able to enjoy intimate performances with state-of-the-art acoustics from roomy seats.

The new studio theatre will be connected to the much-loved Hexagon with the entrance directly accessed from Queens Walk to improve accessibility which will also be enhanced with a Changing Places Toilet.

The extension and refurbishment of this much-loved venue will include a welcoming café, bar, a rooftop terrace, and rehearsal and workshop rooms for community use.

A single-storey backstage and performer area will be demolished to allow for the new building to be created, which will include improved dressing rooms, a wardrobe department, and more production and rehearsal spaces.

Heating the venue will come from a sustainable heat source in line with Reading’s ambition to create a net-zero carbon town by 2030.

The significant investment will secure the future of the Hexagon for several more decades adding to its successful 45-year history.

The application was approved the by Council’s Planning Applications Committee yesterday. Works on site could now begin as early as this summer. The full plans and a recording of the meeting is here Agenda for Planning Applications Committee on Wednesday, 27th March, 2024, 6.30 pm - Reading Borough Council.

Importantly, the Hexagon will remain open, and productions will continue to go ahead during this significant transformation. Take a look at What’s On for the up-to-date programme.

Jackie Yates, Chief Executive, said: “Reading’s Hexagon Theatre has been a much-loved venue for residents and visitors alike since 1977.

“From introducing children to theatre through its legendary panto, which has just enjoyed another hugely successful year, to huge names gracing the stage from comedy giants, bands, dancers, and plays, The Hexagon has played a special role in very many people’s lives.

“The Council wants to continue to attract the biggest names to our venues, while at the same time providing another more versatile space for alternative and more intimate productions. Importantly, it will also be available to hire by the community.

“We want the Hexagon to continue to remain a pivotal venue for Reading residents and the wider area in the future, and this important project will secure that.

“Access to the arts and culture plays an important part in people’s lives. Having such a versatile and accessible venue will enable even more residents to enjoy it.”

The Council’s proposed theatre development is at the centre of its wider ambition to create a vibrant new ‘Minster Quarter’.

Plans for the area include building hundreds of new homes, including much needed affordable homes and creating a vibrant thriving new community at the heart of the town. The development will bring new jobs and growth to the local economy which aligns with the Council’s vision of ensuring everyone in Reading can benefit from the town’s success.

The investment has been made possible through a successful bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund of £19.1m to improve the cultural facilities in Reading. The money will also be used to create a new modern Central Library and redesigned reception at the Civic Centre in Bridge Street.

Find out more and follow this transformational project’s progress at