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Groundlings is a unique Georgian Theatre that hosts a rich and varied programme of events throughout the year - a great many of which are produced in-house.

Built in 1784, the historic building is seen by many visitors as something of a magical place, with secret doors, hidden rooms and even - if you so believe - ten friendly ghosts. In its time, the Groundlings has been frequented by Queen Victoria and was very nearly the birthplace of Portsmouth's most famous son, Charles Dickens.

The building went on to serve both the rich and the poor, with downstairs floor serving as a classroom for impoverished children, whilst the upstairs was used by the high society for meetings, concerts and theatrical performances. The school applied a very disciplinarian attitude to education, and it wasn't until 1837 that the previously boys-only school was opened to girls (the same year a junior school was formed there).

The school had to be closed in 1939 due to the outbreak of WW2 and it's said that a Nazi sympathizer used the roof of the school to shine a torch to direct bombers seeking to hit Portsmouth Dockyard. The school finally closed for good in 1962, but it wasn't until 2010 that it found a new lease of life - in the guise we see today.

It was in 2010 when Richard Stride bought a burned-out shell of a theatre (thanks to a stray firework). Richard then embarked on a major restoration job, for which he appealed to locals to get involved and roll up their sleeves. The development project was in desperate need of help; so builders, local volunteers and countless others came to lend a hand.

As of April 2020 a charity, the Groundlings Theatre Trust, took over operations of the building from Richard.

Routed firmly in its community, the charity strives to provide a variety of top-quality theatrical entertainment, along with unique and professional opportunities for our local community and students. Today you can see everything from musicals to comedies, modern plays to Shakespeare. Groundlings Theatre is buzzing with life and offers a truly unique and intimate experience when watching a performance.

The theatre also runs a prestigious drama school, led by industry professionals. As a producing house, it highly encourages all pupils to take part in our productions.

The Youth Acting Classes take place every Saturday. The weekly class offers practical ways to develop acting skills, boost confidence, improve team working skill, and provide the opportunity to meet new people! The Curtain Group (7-10 year olds) is on Saturdays 11:30am-1.30pm, and the Swan Group (ages 11-18 year olds) is 2pm-4pm.

In addition, there's the Groundlings Musical Theatre class, aimed at young people who wish to learn and develop their singing, acting and dancing skills. Junior Musical Theatre (7-10 year olds) is on Tuesdays 4.30pm-6.30pm, and Senior Musical Theatre (11-18 year olds) is Tuesdays from 6pm-8pm.

The Groundlings hosts a weekly class for adults who wish to discover, explore and improve their acting skill set. Each term the class looks to progress its specialised practice, working with both new and classic texts, alongside developing the participants' own creativity. The Globe Group (for ages 18+) is Wednesdays 7pm–9pm.

Finally, the Rose group is a relaxed adults' class for those who are looking to do something different and meet new people. It’s a class for all abilities to explore different texts and exercise their creativity. These classes are Thursdays 10.30am-12.30pm.

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Map & Directions

Groundlings Theatre


42 Kent Street, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO1 3BS
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Call direct on:

Tel023 9273 7370

Opening Times

Groundlings Theatre (1 Jan 2024 - 31 Dec 2024)

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