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An audience watches as a group of BA (Hons) Acting students perform a production of "The Ballad of Maria Marten" at the Palace Court Theatre in Bournemouth.

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Palace Court Theatre

This is AUB. A place to shape and build your work; to learn, share, provoke and collaborate.

Palace Court Theatre

The Palace Court Theatre is a 1930s Art Deco building, situated in Bournemouth town centre. Owned by Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) since 2020, it's being reactivated as a civic venue for educational and cultural engagement. Our presiding vision is "Education by day and community by night".

Substantial refurbishment has already been undertaken at the theatre and will continue as AUB creates a space in Bournemouth town centre for students and the community to enjoy creativity and connection.

In 2024, for the first time in 40 years, using the spaces that have been refurbished, the venue will host a full programme of educational and cultural events.

About the Palace Court Theatre

AUB’s purchase of the Palace Court Theatre forms part of our civic ambitions, to support the development of the creative industries and the regeneration of Bournemouth’s town centre through educational and cultural activity.

The theatre will be used as a teaching, learning, research, and innovation resource, and as a venue for local artists to develop new ideas.

We welcome local creatives and the public to join us in continuing to redevelop the theatre, to offer support and sponsorship, and embark on a programme of imaginative adventures, to fully reactivate this beautiful 1930s playhouse.

Your visit

Booking tickets

The Palace Court Theatre is used for a variety of events. To book tickets, please go to the individual event page in the What’s On section. From here, you'll find a link to the ticket booking page for that event. Every member of the audience must be in possession of a valid ticket to gain entry to the theatre. The seats are non-allocated.

Ticket policy

Once purchased, tickets can't be exchanged or refunded. All customers aged 14 years or below must be accompanied by an adult aged 18 years or over. Some performances may have different age restrictions. It's the responsibility of the ticket-holder to check any restrictions before they purchase tickets.

Every effort to admit latecomers will be made at a suitable break in the event, but admission can't always be guaranteed.

House opening

Please check individual events for information on what time the house will be open to the public.

Accessibility

We're working on making the venue more accessible. There are currently no lifts in the building, so accessibility is limited. There are three steps from the street to the theatre entrance. A moveable ramp is available to use on these steps. Please let us know in advance if you need to use this.

Access to the main auditorium is on a level with the foyer. There's seating available with extra legroom and two wheelchair spaces. Please advise when booking tickets if you require these spaces. There's one accessible toilet located one floor down from the auditorium. Access is via one flight of stairs. There's a stairlift available for use, with which you may require assistance if you're a wheelchair user.

Access to the toilets is via a series of steps. Access to the clubroom is from the foyer via a series of steps.

Please note, it's also important that you make us aware prior to an event that you have an accessibility need, so that we can arrange a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan for you.

Toilet Facilities

The toilet facilities are currently limited in number, please be aware of this and expect queuing time especially during peak periods (intervals). The toilets are accessed via stairs. There's one stairlift, which can be used to get to the accessible toilet from the auditorium. Please be advised that the toilet facilities are part of the refurbishment project, so whilst functioning, aren't glamorous.

Front of House

Whilst the theatre is under development, please be aware that the space can be cold.

AUB and Palace Court Theatre are cashless sites, payments for refreshments and tickets can only be made by card or contactless payment. There's currently no bar area, but refreshments will be served from the auditorium area.

Travel

Palace Court Theatre is in the centre of Bournemouth on Hinton Road.

  • Bus – Hinton Road Top bus stop is opposite the theatre and served by several bus routes.
  • Car parking – Westover Gardens Car Park and Central Car Park are both within 200 metres of the theatre entrance.

The history

The Palace Court Theatre, which originally opened in 1931, owes its existence to the Bournemouth Little Theatre Club, for whom it was commissioned as a permanent base for their 1,000-strong membership. It was an important focal point for drama on the stage and screen for over 50 years, offering a repertory season of plays and entertainment, including many new works, both on the main stage, and in the clubroom downstairs.

The theatre was designed by local architects Seal & Hardy, who were also responsible for more than 50 other local buildings, including the Regent Centre in Christchurch, the Bournemouth Daily Echo offices, Westover Ice Rink and the Palace Court Hotel (now Premier Inn).

The first Seal & Hardy design, published around 1930, had a vaguely Egyptian cinema-style façade. However, owing to budgetary restraints, it was simplified to emulate the Portland stone façade of London’s Whitehall Theatre. Inside the venue was a fairly plain, typically 1930s modernist interior with a single balcony. Specifically commissioned as a playhouse, rather than a cinema, (sound cinema came along in 1929), the acoustics are excellent for the spoken word. It remains the only theatre in Bournemouth fully suitable for plays.

At the time of opening in June 1931, there were administrative offices and accommodation facilities alongside the theatre in the building next door. In the ensuing years, the Edwardian villas of Westover Road were replaced with hotels, cinemas, theatres, dance halls and an ice rink, as well as the sports facilities at the YMCA. Locals and visitors were attracted to "the strip". A place to see and be seen.

In the 1960s, changing holiday habits and rising costs meant that the amateur drama company could no longer afford to run the theatre, and in 1970 the building was sold to Louis I. Michaels’ LM Theatres. The former clubroom on the lower ground floor was converted into the Galaxy Cinema, whereas the main 595-seater theatre was renamed The Playhouse and operated as a repertory theatre for eight years. After this, in light of dwindling attendances, The Playhouse eventually became a full-time cinema.

In 1983, upon the death of Louis Michaels, the building was put on the market and sold to the Assemblies of God, who'd been hiring it for Sunday services. Change of use to a church was allowed on appeal, and was also made personal to the owners so that, upon any change of ownership, the permission would lapse.

In 2020, AUB purchased the building, and has since begun restoring its use as a theatre venue.

The spaces

The Palace Court Theatre is currently undergoing significant redevelopment and redecoration to reactivate the space. Areas of the space require significant work and access can be difficult. We're working to improve infrastructure systems as well as the physical space. AUB is committed to making its buildings environmentally sustainable in line with its 2030 net zero strategy.

The auditorium

A large stage with gentle raked seating for up to 250 people in the stalls (the circle seating isn't currently available for use). With excellent acoustics for the spoken word, the space is ideal for performances, talks and lectures. The seating isn't numbered and is allocated on a first-come first-served basis. The seating is particularly comfortable as it was acquired from a cinema refurbishment.

The clubroom

Located below street level, the clubroom is a large open space with a low stage area and striking parquet floor. Ideal for meetings, music performances, social gatherings and performances. The current capacity for the clubroom is 100 people.

Get a taste of Palace Court Theatre's shows and events, past and present, in these videos and photos.

Find us

Palace Court Theatre

Hinton Road, Bournemouth
Dorset
BH1 2ET
United Kingdom

Find the Palace Court Theatre: what3words: ///steep.turns.keep

Past events

If you're interested in some of AUB's most recent events and productions at Palace Court Theatre, take a look through our archive of past shows.

An arched window looking out onto a Venice canal, with two people kissing in a gondola. People are at windows and balconies in the background.

AUB Productions presents: La Casa Nova

La Casa Nova, also known as The Superior Residence, was considered by Goldoni to be his best play. Although The Servant...

Illustration of a 1950s car with the silhouette of a couple facing each other in a spotlight. The word "Grease" appears across the front of the car.

BU and AUB Performing Arts Society presents: Grease

Grease Lightning is about to strike, and you won't want to miss the chance to experience the magic of this timeless...

Illustration of a woman surrounded by flames, looming above a small house with its lights on.

AUB Productions presents: The Ballad of Maria Marten

The Ballad of Maria Marten is a revisionist retelling of a harrowing true crime in 1827, which sheds light on a complex tale of...

Close-up of an actor from Realness with a Twist, posing with their arms crossed and palms facing forwards. Other people are holding cards with the number 10 on them in the background.

Iris on the Move 2024

Iris on the Move 2024 is a UK wide touring programme that aims to bring LGBTQ+ films to a wider audience across the UK. It's the largest...

The inside of a theatre auditorium, with three columns of seats on the ground floor and a balcony with further seating above it.

Palace Court Theatre: An ongoing story...

The 'Palace Court Theatre: An ongoing story...' pop-up exhibition is a celebration of AUB’s acquisition of the Palace Court...

Silhouette of a man with fire in the background. The man has his arms raised and a crown is floating above his head.

AUB Productions presents: Macbeth

The civil war was over. The civil war was won. Then, upon a heath, a noble soldier meets three witches. Blood will have blood.

Banner with a haunted house and ghosts floating in the background and a black border around. Text in the foreground reads "The Hallows Collection".

Alice in Spring presents: The Hallows Collection

This free event invites all ages to enjoy creative workshops, captivating storytelling, The Haunted Theatre...

White banner logo with black text reading "Palace Court Theatre Arts University Bournemouth" next to and underneath a line illustration of the outside of the Palace Court Theatre, Bournemouth.

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