Sudbury

Sudbury's YES Theatre hopes to build new outdoor venue

There could be a new outdoor theatre venue in downtown Sudbury, as early as next August. YES Theatre hopes to get shovels in the ground this spring, for an outdoor theatre spaced called "The Refettorio." 

'As a theatre artist you see an empty space and you start to dream'

The Refettorio would include a simple outdoors stage, with seating for 175 people. (Submitted by Alessandro Costantini )

There could be a new outdoor theatre venue in downtown Sudbury, as early as next August. YES Theatre hopes to get shovels in the ground this spring, for an outdoor theatre spaced called "The Refettorio." 

The location is at 131 Durham Street, a site that is currently an empty lot. Plans for the space include a simple stage with seating capacity for 175 people. 

"We wanted to build something that was quite minimalist and innovative and very different," said Alessandro Costantini, YES Theatre's artistic and managing director. 

Costantini said the company first started thinking about the idea a year ago, originally as a pop-up venue for the summer 2021 season. He said the costs involved meant that wasn't feasible, but the team started imagining possibilities for a permanent venue, and began planning. 

"As a theatre artist you see an empty space and you start to dream," Costantini said. 

A space for emerging artists 

YES Theatre was founded in 2010, when Costantini was a teenager. The company puts on musical theatre productions each year, and Costantini said he has a dream to develop the largest musical theatre festival in the country. 

"I thought this could be a great way to achieve that. This space could become something that would be useful in that journey," Costantini said.

Alessandro Costantini performs during a recent YES Theatre production at the Our Lady of Lourde Grotto in Sudbury. (Danielle Provencher )

The space would be around the corner from the Place des Arts, which is set to open its doors in 2022, and close to the Sudbury Theatre Centre. Costantini said having several venues of different sizes in a central location is key for a theatre festival. 

Costantini said the venue will also fit with YES Theatre's minimalist esthetic. It was one born of necessity, since the company didn't have money for large sets and costumes when it started, Costantini said, "so we really developed our form based on sort of using what we have: bodies, text and movement." 

Costantini said a key goal for the Refettorio will be to keep rental costs low, with no plan to make a profit from those fees. As well as YES Theatre putting on its own productions, he imagines the space as a place for emerging performers to experiment and hone their craft. 

$2.8 million price tag

The budget for the project is $2.8 million, and Costantini said YES Theatre has about $1.3 million secured so far, with the company waiting to hear back from more grant applications, which would cover much of the rest of the cost.

The budgeted cost to build the venue is about $2.8 million. (Submitted by Alessandro Costantini )

Last week, YES Theatre presented to Sudbury City Council, asking for $50,000 to support the project. 

"I think it's something that's much needed in the downtown core. The use of space is an excellent idea," said Coun. Mark Signoretti. 

Councillors voted unanimously to include the project in its 2022 budget deliberations. 

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