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Downtown Sudbury outdoor theatre set to open

An outdoor theatre is set to open in downtown Sudbury this summer.

YES Theatre received $750,000 from the province to build its Refettorio, which is currently under construction at a formerly empty lot across from the YMCA on Durham Street.

The new Refettorio is being built on Durham Street in downtown Sudbury across from the YMCA. May 29/23 (Amanda Hicks/CTV Northern Ontario)

"The idea to have an outdoor amphitheatre-style in a downtown setting versus a park setting, like we have at the Grace Hartman, it's really about creating a vibrant art scene in our downtown," Scott Denniston, general manager of Yes Theatre and Sudbury Theatre Centre, told CTV News in an interview.

He said the idea began during the pandemic as a way to give artists work, but it grew from there.

"One thing led to another, it kind of snowballed into sort of a pandemic fix into this massive $3 million project that will be a part of the downtown for years and years and years," Denniston said.

'Refettorio' comes from the Latin word 'reficio,' meaning to repair and restore, he said.

Additionally, the theatre group was also inspired by Italian chef Massimo Bottura, who opened his own refettorio.

"The chef had taken food scraps in different parts of Europe and the idea is to revitalize areas and create beautiful food out of these food scraps," Denniston said.

"This space will have a food component, but it's kind of like a 'dining room for the soul,' in the sense that we're taking art and revitalizing this space that has been underused for a number of years and creating 'food' for the soul."

The outdoor threatre will seat 125 people, have universal washrooms, a Juliet balcony and a concession stand.

Artists rendering of the new Refettorio on Durham Street in downtown Sudbury. (YES Theatre/Sudbury Theatre Centre)

Denniston said he's not sure what kind of food will be served, but pictures it being hand-held items.

A goal of the outdoor theatre is to draw more people downtown and offer increased opportunities for artists, he said.

"The idea is with that art, hopefully, it will be an enticing thing for Sudburians to come downtown and enjoy the art that’s happening in the space," Denniston said.

"Go to the local restaurants, go to the local shops and really enjoy downtown Sudbury."

Ruthie Nkut, associate artistic director and head of marketing at Sudbury Theatre Centre/Yes Theatre, said from a performer's perspective, the space presents new opportunities.

Scott Denniston and Ruthie Nkut of YES Theatre/Sudbury Theatre Centre at the construction site of the new Refettorio on Durham Street in downtown Sudbury. May 29/23 (Amanda Hicks/CTV Northern Ontario)

"It’s a fresh stage, it’s a different way of working. It feels like we can create anything. It feels like an 'imaginitorium,'" Nkut said.

"It's not going to be huge sets, it's not going to be lots of costumes and lots of different designs."

The Refettorio is set to open Aug. 8, offering 'Romeo and Juliet' and a Shania Twain tribute, 'Forever and Always.' Top Stories

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