Arts Undergoes Another Management ChangeDate: 8 December 2010
Mig Kimpton, former operator of the Sound Theatre, will return to the Arts Theatre as its executive director just over a year since stopped acting as the venue's general manager, it was recently announced.
The lease on the theatre, which was opened in 1927, has now been assumed by JJ Goodman Ltd, a bars and restaurant consortium, who have operated the bar in the theatre since 2008. They have appointed Kimpton, who will also remain in his current role as the London manager for the Royal Shakespeare Company, with the hopes of reviving the theatre's fortunes.
The theatre will open on 18 January 2011 (previews from 13 January) with Woody Sez, a play based on the "words, music and spirit" of folk singer Woody Guthrie which will run until 2 April 2011. Kimpton then hopes to establish the theatre as a short-season house which producers can book for four to eight weeks. As well as operating as a receiving house Kimpton said that the theatre was in negotiations to co-produce a children's revival and musical review with a producer next Christmas.
Talking about his plans for the venue, Kimpton, who has also previously been general manager of the Playhouse Theatre, said the venues's biggest limitation was its comparatively small capacity of 340 seats. Although the promoter would love continue the Royal Shakespeare Company's historical connection to the Arts Theatre he told Whatsonstage.com that his doors remained open to any producer or regional theatre looking for somewhere to promote their work in London.
Although the owners of the Arts, property developers Consolidated St Giles LLP, have plans to redevelop the Great Newport Street site, Kimpton stressed he had been given assurances that they would be given time to establish themselves as operators and build the venue's reputation before any changes were made to the property. Any development which takes place on the site would be required to retain a theatre, with Kimpton stating the current economic climate made any redevelopment "look a long, long way off".
Established in 1927 as a theatre club to avoid the Lord Chamberlain’s stage censorship, the Arts went on to host premiere productions of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Eugene O'Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra and Jean Anouilh’s Waltz of the Toreadors (all directed by Peter Hall). Other notable UK or world premieres have included Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker, Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr Sloane, O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh and Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer.