Diss’ Corn Hall’s exciting new lease of life

Corn Hall, Diss (photo: Sonya Duncan, Eastern Daily Press 2015)

Corn Hall, Diss (photo: Sonya Duncan, Eastern Daily Press 2015) - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

The historic Diss Corn Hall reopens this month with an exciting programme of shows and events – including comedian, novelist and television favourite Shappi Khorsandi

Shappi Khorsandi (photo: Piers Allardyce)

Shappi Khorsandi (photo: Piers Allardyce) - Credit: Archant

Built in 1854, during a time of great prosperity, the majestic Corn Hall in Diss was the at the town’s social and cultural heart for more than a century.

Now, after a major year-long refurbishment, the venue has just re-opened, announcing a fantastic programme of film, music, theatre, comedy and literary events to mark the new era in its history.

The Diss Corn Hall Trust – a charitable arts trust – was set up in 2009 to breathe new life into the old building, which had been closed for some years. Within a year, it reopened its doors as an exciting arts venue and audiences have grown from 3,000 to 30,000 a year. The first gig was a student band from Diss High School with a young acoustic guitarist called Ed Sheeran as its support act.

As part of a major multi-million pound heritage project in the town, the Corn Hall was closed once more in 2015. This time, however, it was to build on the success of the Diss Corn Hall Trust and to enable work to begin to transform it to its former glory and add a state-of-the-art extension to creating a vibrant hub for the whole community attracting a world-class programme of events.

The old trading hall, now the auditorium, has retractable seating and modern under floor heating, two studio spaces, and an expanded gallery with a new bar, run by Grain brewery of Alburgh, and a café under the wing of Fredricks Fine Foods of Diss.

Among the first events announced are the Diss Jazz Club; historian, writer and commentator David Starkey; poet Luke Wright; a beer, gin and rum festival and live screenings from the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House.

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Comedian, writer and television panellist Shappi Khorsandi brings her spring tour to the Corn Hall on May 25 with her new show ‘Oh My Country!’ From Morris Dancing To Morrissey’ celebrating the 40th anniversary of her arrival in Britain from Iran. Her book – A Beginner’s Guide To Acting English – tells the story of her life as a young girl arriving in England. Does she think it would be a very different experience today?

“I think people are exactly the same,” she says. “Social media can make us feel hostility is more rife, but idiots have always been idiots. The majority of people, even if they don’t get all their facts right, are kind to each other.

“I do challenge the idea that your nationality is something other people decide for you. Your culture isn’t made up just from the place you were born. I may have been born in Iran but when I’m in Scotland I feel English and when I’m in Cornwall I feel like a pasty.”

Shappi Khorsandi performs at Diss Corn Hall on May 25. Her debut novel Nina Is Not OK is out now. For all details see: www.thecornhall.co.uk