£10.6m Soho Theatre Opens with New PlaysDate: 14 March 2000
The Soho Theatre Company launches its opening season at its new, 200-seat theatre in Dean Street tonight. The Soho Theatre and Writers' Centre, after more than three years in development, becomes the West End's first ever purpose-built theatre for new work. Its introductory season of four plays from new writers, 'Four Plays: Four Weeks', offers a taster of things to come.
The company has been homeless since being evicted from the Cockpit Theatre, near Edgware Road, in 1995. In 1997, it bought an eight-storey, former synagogue in Dean Street and set about creating a state-of-the-art centre for new writing with a theatre, writers' centre and restaurant. Funds for the £10.6m project were raised mainly through lottery grants and through some savvy property deals, by turning the top floors of the building into rental flats and leasing the bottom two floors to a restaurateur.
Every year, the Soho Theatre receives some 1,500 scripts from aspiring playwrights. Each is read and commented upon with the most promising writers called in for workshops. The aim of the season is to showcase the very best of these. In 'Four Plays: Four Weeks', each play is rehearsed for one week and then performed for one week.
The season starts with Jonathan Lichtenstein's Station, a play about music, memory and guilt set in Berlin in 1938 and 1989, which will run from 14 to 18 March. Billy and the Crab Lady by Holly Phillips, a story of flat-sharing twentysomethings in the 90s, runs from 21 to 25 March. It's followed by Marta Emmitt's Cadillac Ranch, from 28 March to 1 April, in which three American students drive across the US in an attempt to answer questions about art, sexuality and cowboys. The final play in 'Four Plays: Four Weeks' is The Jerusalem Syndrome by Amy Rosenthal, about a young woman who is haunted by a past love affair during her time on a kibbutz, which runs from 4 to 8 April.