“ Address: Llanidloes Road / Newtown / Powys / SY16 4HU / Wales „
Theatr Hafren is a small theatre situated in Newtown, Mid Wales. (No, they haven't misspelled the name, "theatr" is the Welsh spelling of theatre). It is situated just off the A470, attached to the college (Coleg Powys) on the edge of town.
It's not the nicest of looking theatres on the outside, in fact it's pretty much a block of bricks! Ignore the picture Dooyoo have used, because that's just a proposed redevelopment image. However, once inside it's not so bad!
The theatre holds over 530 seats and wherever you sit you are guaranteed a good view. I've been to many performances at Theatr Hafren and haven't had a bad seat yet. My only comment would be when sat on either of the balconies, the safety bar can affect your view should the performer go to the far side of the stage, although I haven't found it to be too much of a problem. Wheelchair users and their companions are given priority seating in the front row and the ground floor is wheelchair friendly.
There is plenty of parking available at the theatre as it shares the college car park in front of the theatre and college. I have never had a problem with car parking there.
Theatr Hafren has a variety of performances on each season, for example this season's (Spring 2009) performances include Welsh comedian Rhod Gilbert (who I went to see last night - he was fantastic!), a talk by Chris Sharma (one of the world's best climers), Irish singer/songwriter Sean O'Farrell, Oliver! by the local musical theatre company, the European Union Chamber Orchestra, comedian Dave Spikey, folk-rock band Steeleye Span and many more.
So as you can see, Theatr Hafren has a wide range of performers visiting each season. It also supports local performers such as Newtown Musical Theatre Company, the Montgomeryshire Young Farmers Clubs, Ysgol Theatr Maldwyn and Montgomeryshire Community Drama Association and Mid Wales Opera.
I love to go to Theatr Hafren to see the comedians. Despite it only being a small theatre, it attracts people such as Jack Dee, Jo Brand, Ken Dodd, Max Boyce, Lee Evans, Marcus Brigstocke and many others. Some such as Ken Dodd and Max Boyce return time and time again, and always sell out! (Beware when going to see Ken Dodd as you never know how long you may be there... The last time I saw him at Theatr Hafren he didn't finish on stage until 1.15am!).
Theatr Hafren also has a gallery showing art by not only local artists, but those further afield too. The theatre's gallery is currently hosting (until Early May 2009) art by Diarmid (Dee) Doody who's art reflects his upbringing amongst the wildlife of South Africa.
Refreshments are available from the bar, coffee shop and ice cream kiosk. The bar is open an hour before each performance, during the interval (it is recommended that you reserve your drink for the interval to avoid the rush!), as well as after the performance. Intervals are usually between 15 - 30 minutes to ensure you have time to get your refreshments and visit the toilets.
Tickets can be booked via telephone (01686 625007), post, online or in person. Prices are dependant on the performers, for example I paid £11 per ticket to see Rhod Gilbert, but a more famous act such as Lee Evans can command prices around the £20 mark. However, I have found Theatr Hafren's ticket prices to be cheaper than other nearby theatres. For example, to see Dave Spikey at Theatr Hafren in Newtown this spring will cost you £17.50 each, whereas at Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury it's £18. It's only a small difference, but it makes quite a difference if the whole family is going. The theatre recently started taking online bookings too.
Consessions are available to children, students, disabled people and the unemployed. I can remember often taking advantage of discounts when I was at the college which adjoins the theatre. Discounts are also available to most performances to people who are booking tickets for groups of 10 people or more. Special offers such as family discounts and Early Saver tickets are also available for certain performances.
Staff are always very helpful and friendly. When buying your tickets they will help choose appropriate seats for you. I like to sit somewhere around 7 rows back and in the middle and if phoning when the tickets have only just gone on sale, I often get the seats I prefer. Even when phoning to get tickets for Rhod Gilbert, whose performance had nearly sold out at that point, they managed to seat the 5 of us together.
Theatr Hafren's website www.theatrhafren.com - has the current line-up and joining their mailing list will ensure you know about new performances in plenty of time. A printed programme is also available at the theatre and via post.
If you live in Mid Wales or Shropshire, I'd definitely recommend seeing shows at Theatr Hafren. I like to support local businesses and this place is definitely worth supporting. The marketing department obviously put in a lot of hard work into getting some of the big names to come to somewhere they've never heard of in the wilds of Mid Wales.