The changing face of Theatreland

Reporter: Rachel Jessop, first published Tue 08 Nov 2016 16:03

By Niall Palmer

What does the future hold for London’s creative spaces? Will austerity stifle creativity or could Britain’s shifting position in the world actually trigger new opportunities for the capital’s theatrical community? You might be surprised to learn that despite an already turbulent year for the UK economy, Theatreland is actually expanding. Producers are constantly seeking new and exciting locations for innovative, daring and ground-breaking work. So, where should you be looking for tomorrow’s stand-out theatre - and what are the new venues on the block?

King’s Cross Theatre

The Shakespeare Trilogy

Donmar Shakespeare Trilogy Autumn 2016

What was once a run-down rail terminus, is now a fashionable entertainment district with bustling piazzas, buzzy eateries and thriving nightlife combining to give the new N1C postcode a cool urban vibe. Check out the muggles on Platform 9¾ inside King’s Cross Station and then stroll through Battle Bridge Close to the King’s Cross Theatre (South Entrance). One of the most exciting developments is a new 420 seat in-the-round temporary theatre immediately adjacent to the station and directly accessible from King’s Boulevard.

Currently showing the Donmar season of Phyllida Lloyd’s Shakespeare Trilogy with performances until 17 Dec 2016, it’s one of the hottest tickets in town. Dame Harriet Walter leads the all-female company in productions of Julius Caesar, Henry IV and The Tempest.

Tickets for the Shakespeare Trilogy can be booked via the Donmar’s website.

Lazarus

Michael C Hall (Newton), Sophia Anne Caruso (Girl) in Lazarus (Photo: Johan Persson)

Another brand-new venue on the King's Cross site is the much-anticipated 800-seat theatre space for Lazarus. The show was written by David Bowie and Enda Walsh, and inspired by the book The Man Who Fell To Earth. King’s Cross reunites the stars of the Broadway production, Michael C Hall (Thomas Newton), Michael Esper (Valentine) and Sophia Anne Caruso (Girl). The show features new songs written by Bowie for the Broadway production, plus special arrangements of Changes, All The Young Dudes and Life On Mars.

Tickets for Lazarus can be booked via the show’s official site.

What made this all possible? Well, in a nutshell it’s down to Google who own and loaned the land upon which the King’s Cross venues have been built. All of the on-site facilities at King’s Cross Theatre are fully accessible to those with less mobility. It’s worth noting that there is a separate entrance on Goods Place for In The Heights and The Railway Children. For both Lazarus and The Shakespeare Trilogy, you should instead use the Regent’s Canal exit from King’s Cross Underground or follow the exits for Granary Square when arriving from St Pancras Station.

The Vaults

Bold, fresh and fearless, The Vaults' mission is “to collaborate and conspire, embracing artists from all walks of life to come together and inspire others.” If it’s adult, ambitious and avant-garde it’s probably here.
 
The Vaults seats 176 in an abandoned archway in the tunnels beneath Waterloo Station. Here you’ll unearth diverse and often unique theatrical styles, subjects and stories that complement this unusual subterranean location. From visiting theatre companies to highly innovative in-house productions, shows at The Vaults happen under your feet and definitely get under your skin!

F*cking Men

F*cking Men

Following several smash-hit runs in London, the King’s Head production of F*cking Men now transfers to The Vaults. Inspired by classic play La Ronde, Tony Award winning writer Joe DiPietro (Memphis) transplants interweaving tales of sexual power, discovery and exploration to today’s gay scene in a slick dramatic comedy of gay sexual manners.

Trainspotting

Trainspotting (Photo: Andreas Grieger)

This punchy, 75 minute production recaptures the passion and the controversy of the famous novel, then globally successful film, Trainspotting, and repackages it into an immersive production.

For a full list of shows and to book tickets, visit The Vaults online.

The Spiegeltent

Satya Bella in La Soiree at Christmas in Leicester Square

From 11 November a Spiegeltent (Dutch for Mirror-Tent) takes up winter residency in London’s Leicester Square as hit cabaret, burlesque and sideshow La Soirée returns to the West End for its seventh spectacular season. Acts include the English Gents and Denis Lock’s Bubble Act along with Ursula Martinez, one of La Soirée’s founding members in her La Soirée swansong.

The Spiegeltent has become a mainstay of the Edinburgh Festival and London’s South Bank and now makes a hugely welcome return to its original London home, Leicester Square for the Christmas season, positioned conveniently right behind the TKTS booth.

The Other Palace

Frances Ruffelle as Queenie in The Wild Party

As a London theatregoer you may already know The Other Palace without knowing you know it, if that makes sense? The St James Theatre will be renamed The Other Palace when Rent closes in early 2017, the new name deriving from the theatre’s proximity to both the Victoria Palace and Buckingham Palace – making it ‘The Other Palace’. When the venue re-opens in February, it will be a home for established shows and a breeding ground for new musicals at various stages of development.

The future of the venue has been secured by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group. Lord Lloyd Webber said: “I very much hope that writers and producers will use The Other Palace as a space in the heart of London where they can try out and refine new material without the distraction of complicated sets and automation.  I had a great experience trying out School Of Rock at the Gramercy Theatre in New York in this way.”

The Bridge Theatre

Looking further ahead, there’s the tantalising prospect of Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr’s brand new 900-seater theatre beside One Tower Bridge in Potter’s Field Park due to open in Autumn 2017. In the shadow of The Shard, the space will be the largest purpose-built theatre auditorium to open in a central London location this century, with Stirling Prize winners Steve Tompkins and Roger Watts commissioned to create a flagship theatre with exceptional levels of performance, comfort and modernity.

With more overseas visitors than ever visiting London and even more of us choosing to work and play in the nation’s capital city, the theatre industry seems well placed to grow and grow. Who knows where one might pop up next?

 

By Niall Palmer