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Edge Hill's old swimming pool, filled with water

News story

Performing Arts making a splash in new facility

June 7, 2022

The Performing Arts department at Edge Hill University are benefiting from the recent conversion of the much-loved old swimming pool into a unique performance space.

The refitting of the space, which is now named ‘The Performance Studio’, will enhance the learning experience for staff and students, offering a performance area rich with history and character.

A composite image showing the pool when it was open to swimmers and on the right, as a performance space
Before and after: the pool open to swimmers (left) and as a performance space (right)

“Obviously, space is often a premium at institutions so the facilities that we have within the Performing Arts department are a real selling point”, said Clare Chandler, Lecturer in Musical Theatre. “Anything that adds to our already impressive portfolio is beneficial to the student experience.”

Senior Lecturer in Musical Theatre, Dr Jonathan Stinson, believes the facility will only benefit the needs of students, giving them an advantage that many of their contemporaries in other universities will not be able to enjoy.

“The space is larger than that our theatres, so the biggest advantage is that when using it for rehearsals for performances that will ultimately take place in the Rose or Studio Theatre, the students can practice in the proper dimensions.

“Many universities don’t have a rehearsal space bigger than the performance space, so this is a huge advantage and will save time when the students move from rehearsals into the performance venue.

“It is a huge asset, especially to our department that we can move away from the many smaller rehearsal spaces within the Performing Arts Centre and into a large room.”

Planning is already underway by third year Dance students who aim to perform their dissertation work in the new space. One student is planning to give a choreographic response to a true story of wrongful imprisonment. The architectural features such as changing cubicles which remain from its time as a swimming pool can be incorporated in these works and help with the creative process.

Dancers performing in old pool space
Dancers performing in old pool area

Senior Lecturer in Dance, James Hewison, said:

“The space lends itself to immersive performance whereby the audience are fully ‘inside’ an event, surrounded by the Victorian architecture and original features, including the retained cubicle/changing rooms, that surround the central performance area. In this respect the space shares an aesthetic with the famous Victoria Baths in Manchester.”

Find out more about studying Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre.

June 7, 2022