Sunday, 25 June 2017

A love letter to Storyhouse

This may come as no secret to those who knows me in real life, or to those who follow me on social media, but I am just a little bit love with Chester's Storyhouse. OK, a love, and I don't throw that word around lightly. That's usually only reserved for my very nearest and dearest, a cold glass of pinot grigio. Oh and Tom Hardy, obviously.

It's just that my feelings for Storyhouse go beyond being just a crush, or a brief encounter, like my flirtation with a gym membership did. I'm not going to turn my back on it if the plush red carpet fades, or if the furniture that looks like it belongs in a luxury hotel get's a little bit grubby.

We might not always get along all the time of course, we nearly fell out as I navigated the website one evening, and when I felt like I might develop claustrophobia stood in the Queue of one of the smaller ladies loos! But getting through little bumps in the road like that, are the sign of a good relationship I think.

So Storyhouse, thanks for coming into my life. I love thee. Here's why.

 1. You came along at just the right time

We have no culture! We need a cinema they said, we need a theatre, they said. We're losing people to Manchester and Liverpool! I know, things were starting to get a bit manic .....

So what happened? Well you came along and gave them exactly what they wanted. A £37 million pound investment in our beautiful city. A 100 seat cinema, showing the big hits as well as smaller independent films. A theatre sitting up to 800, a restaurant and bar, and wrapping it's arms lovingly around the whole building, is the library.
You gave us everything we needed and more, all in one space. And all by redeveloping one of the city's most iconic buildings. The 1930's art deco, Odeon building.

Thanks Storyhouse.

Merging the old, with the new.

2. I can read, and eat, and drink wine....all in one place and nobody will judge me!

Storyhouse has genuinely become one of my favourite places to spend some free time. I can change my book, read a newspaper and grab a coffee. Or a wine, if it's at a reasonable time in the day of course *cough* I can order a bite to eat and take a seat to settle in and read for as long as I wish. You also never know who is going to be there, I've had a coffee listening to live music, and read a book whilst watching children excitedly dressing up in Alice in Wonderland costumes, it's a real hub of activity.

If it's peace and quiet you want, then you can sit upstairs in one of the quieter reading areas in Storyhouse. .

No disapproving looks if you drink wine in a library! Not that I've tried.....

3. You like Kids!

Kids are welcome, kids feel welcome and as a parent? That's a big deal.

Firstly the kids library, it's a joy to enter with it's bright colours, decorative items and the comfy window seats. You don't feel you have to hush them every five seconds through fear of disapproving tuts and stares They have their own small theatre space where story time, and music time takes place, They can also do arts and crafts here, dressing up, puppets I've seen it all.

My 10 year old feels like she can walk around the building, interact, look at books and feel's as if this is much her library as much as the adults, I love that.

Best of all Under 12's go free! All children can experience the joy of theatre as they are free under 12 (with accompanying paying adult) Whilst some may, and do take advantage (an entire row of loud schoolchildren sat behind me at one show) You can't deny it makes theatre accessible to all, and listening to the children laughing and clapping and gasping along to Shakespeare? Whats not to love about that.

No parenting with hushed whispers needed here at Storyhouse!

4. You can take classes.

Storyhouse also offers a wide range of classes suitable for all ages and open to everyone. From sewing club, to creative writing and scrabble club. Sessions to help those looking into their family history, work club - which is free to anyone unemployed, to give them the skills they need to look for work. And an online basics class, a reading group for the visually impaired. Hey, there was at one point a Beyonce dance class! Yes really.

5 The Library won't mind if you talk

I think this has to be the most controversial part of Storyhouse. The library.
Now some HATE the fact that you can actually speak in a library. Personally? I love it. I love feeling like I can walk around and not feel like I'm in a museum with a squeaky shoe. Some people hate this and need peace and quiet, for this there are the reading rooms upstairs, and lots of nooks and cranny's you can hide away in. If you really need absolute peace and quiet to read you could you know, always take the book home, That's kinda the point of the library anyway right?

Quieter reading areas.

6. It's open until 10 pm

Why do we need a library open until 10 pm I've heard people moan. Well, why not?
People can pop in after work, and not everyone's work finishes at 5 pm! They can use the library, or grab a bite to eat before the cinema or theatre. Parents waiting to pick up kids from town/parties can do so without mindlessly wandering around Tesco buying £35 of stuff you didn't really need in order to not pay for parking, we've all done this!.
You can grab a drink in there, Students can study.

I've seen the building abuzz with activity, yes even after 7pm.

Open for good times, even past 8 pm.

7. There's always someone around

Not following you around to make sure you don't slip a book under your jumper, or sneak popcorn into the cinema...which is actually fine to do btw. These are the fabulous Storyhouse helpers.
Wherever you look, from the lobby to the library, and the theatre spaces. If you need any help to navigate the building, the bookshelves, or to check out or return a book, they'll be right behind you. In a totally helpful and non creepy way as I've made it sound.

8. They like a Tweet.

If your on Twitter give them a follow, They are not only are pretty hot at tweeting about whats coming up. they are also good getting back to you with any complaints or queries.
They also have a sense of humour. A must in any good relationship.

Ahh Storyhouse, you smooth talker.

9. They cater for all tastes.

Chester wanted a theatre, they got a theatre. Ahhhh but is it bringing the shows that we see in Manchester and Liverpool? (It's always Liverpool and Manchester)
Yes, Yes it is.
Blood Brothers, Footloose, Spamalot. Along Shakespeare, The Beggars Opera, comedy and children's favourites such as Alice in Wonderland, There is something for absolutely watch at Storyhouse.

10, But they don't sell pints.

And if that's the worst part of this relationship Storyhouse? You and me will be just fine.

Here's to a long and happy future Storyhouse


Find out what's going on at Storyhouse here

Pictures with thanks from Rob Jeffries, mrsrachelokelly, Storyhouse and The Chester Blog 

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