Royal Court Brings It All Back Home - At Last!Date: 16 February 2000
It's been a long, long journey, but the Royal Court is finally 'bringing it all back home' to Sloane Square. Since March 1996, the home of the pioneering theatre for new work has been undergoing a massive £25m refurbishment, which includes extensive underground expansion of the facilities. Tomorrow, it reopens to the public with Conor McPherson's Dublin Carol.
In fact, McPherson's follow-up to The Weir was meant to have its world premiere at the Court last month. But following the last in a long line of building delays, Ian Rickson's production was forced to mount its world premiere on a makeshift stage at the Old Vic. It finished its short run of 29 performances there on Saturday.
The Royal Court, which was originally meant to reopen in May 1998, continued to produce new work throughout its exile from Sloane Square. Taking up extended residencies in two West End theatres - the Duke of York's and the Ambassadors - the Court's English Stage Company, led by artistic director Rickson, produced some of its most successful productions, including Mark Ravenhill's Shopping and F***ing, Martin McDonagh's Leenane Trilogy, David Mamet's The Old Neighbourhood, Caryl Churchill's Blue Heart and McPherson's Olivier Award-winning The Weir, which continues to run at the Duke of York's. The homecoming season includes new work by McPherson, Jim Cartwright and Martin Crimp.
The Royal Court was originally built in 1888. In 1955, after years of disuse and bombing during the Blitz, the Court became the home of the English Stage Company which pledged to promote the work of forward-looking, modern playwrights. The company's first season included John Osborne's Look Back in Anger. Since then, the theatre has had a hand in developing the careers of playwrights such as Edward Bond, Arnold Wesker, Christopher Hampton, David Hare, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Sarah Kane, Jez Butterworth and Ayub Khan-Din. The Royal Court is sponsored by the Jerwood Foundation.