Not many community theatre groups have a home quite like the Surrey Little Theatre.
Located on 184 Street in the building of the historic Clayton United Church, the community theatre group has been putting on plays there since the early 1970s. But that’s likely going to change in the next couple years, according to theatre board member Ellie Parento.
The Surrey Little Theatre building is located in the West Clayton neighbourhood concept plan area, which will be seeing increased densification and development in the coming years. The changes coming to the area, Parento said, are going to make it difficult for the theatre to continue in its current location.
“We won’t be able to stay here for a couple of reasons — the biggest one being parking,” she said. “Already, we basically have street parking.”
The small parking lot to the side of the theatre only holds around three cars, and that is designated as handicap parking during showtime. The lots on either side of the theatre are owned by development companies, making expansion unlikely.
The building is also extremely close to the road, meaning the historic section of the church will likely be impacted by any construction on the street.
The logical step, Parento said, is to look for a new home for the theatre. But so far it hasn’t been easy.
“We’re struggling to find a place to move to, because while we own the property, it’s not a big piece of land, so it makes it difficult to do,” she said. “We’re trying. We are looking at options, but it all depends on so many things.”
One of the big difficulties is the building size. The current space for the Surrey Little Theatre doesn’t currently meet its needs, Parento said.
“There’s no wings to the theatre. There’s no back behind the theatre. You can only access it from one side or coming in through the audience,” she explained. Because they need a bigger space, it’s harder to find something.
“And we really want to stay in Cloverdale,” she added. “It’s been our home and this is where a lot of our people want to come and see the shows.”
Parento said it will hopefully be another couple years before anything needs to happen with the building, and although nothing is set in stone the theatre is working to find a new home.
“Some people think we’re not here anymore, that we’ve closed already,” she said. “We don’t want to just disappear, that’s for sure.
“We’ll work hard to find another home … we just don’t have anything definite yet.”