Following the news that St Albans theatre company, OVO, is set to receive £300,000 in funding towards a new venue, The Herts Ad spoke with creative director Adam Nichols.

The new theatre would be located St Germain’s Barn and St Michael's Changing Rooms, near Verulamium Park - described by Adam as the "perfect location".

Although a £300,000 grant has already been awarded, a planning application has not yet been submitted for the two St Albans City and District Council-owned buildings.


The company, which runs the Maltings Theatre and the Roman Theatre of Verulamium, plans to make use of the outdoor Roman Theatre during the summer, with St Germain's Barn taking over in the colder months.

"The Maltings Theatre is an excellent space for smaller scale pieces, rehearsal and workshop-type work," Adam said.

Herts Advertiser: OVO hopes to complete the conversion of the two buildings by the end of 2024.OVO hopes to complete the conversion of the two buildings by the end of 2024. (Image: Lipsey PR / OVO)

"Obviously, the Roman Theatre is outdoors so we have actually been looking for a while, for a new space that will enable us to produce larger scale pieces that are more in keeping with our work now.

"The barn is really the perfect location."

Speaking about St Germain's Barn's proximity to The Abbey Theatre - which also sits close to Verulamium Park - Adam continued: "I think we have quite different audiences.

Herts Advertiser: OVO hope to open the theatre in 2025.OVO hope to open the theatre in 2025. (Image: Lipsey PR / OVO)

"We did a lot of research with our own audience before deciding to do this. 

"We did quite a big survey of the Roman Theatre audience, and well over 90 per cent said that they thought a new theatre was a good idea.

"So, we're quite confident that the audience is there and we don't believe that it will impinge on the audience that other theatres, like the Abbey Theatre, have."

While the design is yet to be finalised, OVO believe that around 100 people will fit into the new  space, which will have an increased height in comparison to The Maltings Theatre. 

Adam continued: "One of the constraints with The Maltings has always been ceiling height, which in theatre is obviously quite a challenge in terms of lighting and sets.

"Having a space that has more (height) was quite an important consideration for us.

"It will give us more flexibility, in terms of what we're able to do."

The artistic director spoke of the challenges that come with the ancient monument status of the area, and how Historic England will have a say when it comes to achieving planning permission for the site.

Herts Advertiser: OVO artistic director Adam Nichols.OVO artistic director Adam Nichols. (Image: Lipsey PR / OVO)

 "Our overall view is that, as I understand it, the building has been empty for at least 15 years essentially falling apart.

"We know that there is a strong desire, not least from Historic England, to see that building restored and brought back to a decent state.

Herts Advertiser: We are hopeful that the plans we draw up will be viewed positively - Adam Nichols.We are hopeful that the plans we draw up will be viewed positively - Adam Nichols. (Image: Lipsey PR / OVO)

"So, we are hopeful that the plans we draw up - which will obviously be very sympathetic to the architecture of the building - will be positively viewed."