THE Daily Echo has been given an exclusive tour around Southampton's new Studio 144 complex - and now we're giving you a sneak peek.

With just weeks to go before Studio 144 throws open its doors with what is set to be a spectacular launch weekend we took a look inside the new theatres, studios, dressing rooms at Guildhall Square.

The first show at NST City will be the world premiere of a new play written especially for the city which pays homage to the home of the Spitfire.

City art chiefs are gearing up for a spectacular event to launch the £30million city centre arts venue which inlcudes a flexible 450 seat main house theatre and a 135 seat studio.

Southampton Celebrates’ will be a weekend of shows to mark the opening of Studio 144.

As previously reported February 16 will be the opening weekend of Nuffield Southampton Theatres City and the John Hansard Gallery.

Featuring specially commissioned outdoor shows by Hampshire’s own dance company Zoielogic and a series of work by international artists, the weekend will also feature speeches from the city’s cultural leaders as well as vice chancellor of Southampton University Professor Sir Christopher Snowden.

There will be a “spectacular” fireworks display and from 7pm both north and south buildings will be open to the public.

The Shadow Factory by award-winning Hampshire playwright Howard Brenton, will open in February with a story of “chaos, courage and community spirit”.

And using technology never seen before in a UK theatre, The Shadow Factory will feature state-of-the-art “nano winches” normally used by the likes of rock bands for stadium gigs, to bring the flight of the Spitfires to life, as well as being used to create architectural features on stage.

And the sets from the show will also be turned into a unique exhibition during the opening weekend, allowing the public to get on stage and see first hand the sets from the show.

Director Sam Hodges said: “I’m not interested in creating a patriotic show, it’s about the community of Southampton coming together. And symbolically it works really well - it’s a time in our history when the city came together.”

Now it’s up to the technical crew to practise configuring the seating in the mainhouse, where the audience will be able to sit in any one of three different layouts according the play they’re watching.

There are art spaces for community groups and to hire, as well as a rehearsal studio, and local dance company Zoielogic are already installed in their office overlooking Guildhall Square, working away on the show they will present in front of Studio 144 on the opening weekend.

The Shadow Factory will open on February 15 until March 3.