LOST Theatre, the youth company that gave Ralph Fiennes his first big break, has this week opened the doors to its new permanent home in a purpose-built arts complex in Stockwell, south London.

Constructed within the frame of the old South Bank University building on Wandsworth Road, the LOST Theatre will also serve as a vital new cultural hub for the London Borough of Lambeth.

The complex, which is part of a wider residential development by Mount Anvil plc, includes a 181-seat theatre, 2 rehearsal studios, 2 generous-sized dressing rooms, a workshop, gallery space and foyer bar, all available for hire when not in use by LOST itself.

At Tuesday’s launch, RSC actor and LOST alumnus Matthew Hebden introduced a short film about the company’s 30 year history before the performance of three plays from its annual Five Minute Play Festival. In his closing words, Hebden said: “We may have this new theatre, but the company spirit remains the same.”

Founded in 1979 at the London Oratory School by Cecil Hayter, LOST originally operated from a studio theatre in the basement of Fulham Methodist Church until the redevelopment of Fulham Broadway Underground forced the company to pack up shop in 1999.

Homeless for a decade, LOST downsized its activities but continued to produce two or three shows a year in fringe venues around London, including The Gate, Tabard and Upstairs at the Gatehouse, as well as establishing its One Act and Five Minute Play festivals.

The company had looked at several other sites before securing 208 Wandsworth Road, thanks to a clause in the development plan that insisted it included a community arts space.

“Now we have this wonderful theatre, LOST can finally get back to doing what we do best,” said trustee Kat Portman. That includes its work with younger actors through outreach and theatre-in-education projects, while maintaining a wider commitment to nurturing young professionals both before and after drama school.

The company has also pledged to engage with Stockwell’s sizeable Portuguese and Cape Verdian community, the largest in Europe outside Portugal itself. The new theatre will host a fortnight of Portuguese culture in April and May, featuring local actors, musicians, film-makers and artists.

Before that, the venue’s opening production will be Universal Citizens’ Panphobia, a site-influenced horror piece based on the fairy tale of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and running from 26 January to 14 February.

www.losttheatre.co.uk