The Gate Theatre, one of London’s leading fringe theatres, celebrates its 25th birthday with a gala celebration tomorrow night, Thursday 18 March 2004, hosted by Bill Nighy and Fiona Shaw, with a special appearance by Janie Dee.

The Gate was founded in 1979 above a pub on Pembridge Road in Notting Hill. Former artistic directors include the founder Lou Stein, Stephen Daldry, Giles Croft, David Farr, Laurence Boswell and Mick Gordon. Later this year, the current artistic director Erica Whyman leaves after three years in the job. Her successor is yet to be announced.

The Gate's forthcoming anniversary season, entitled ‘Taking Liberties’, aims to do just that with form, content and the audience's expectations. The first production, Happy Yet? (29 March - 24 April), is based on four plays by Feydeau, which have been devised and reworked by Ed Woodall and Linda McClean.

It comes to the Gate after two years in development at the National Theatre Studio and is followed by a piece of musical 'documentary' theatre - Gone Missing - the latest collaboration from acclaimed New York theatre company, the Civilians, which runs from 3 to 22 May 2004.

The final piece in the Taking Liberties season is The Arab-Israeli Cookbook, a new play by actor Robin Soans (Love's Labour's Lost, Push Up, The Holy Terror). A Gate collaboration with the Caird company, it runs from 7 June to 10 July 2004 and is directed by Rima Brihi and Tim Roseman.

The Gate’s 25th Birthday Gala will be held at the Twentieth Century Theatre in Notting Hill, west London, and will include an auction and raffle supported by local sponsors. For more information on the event or Gate fundraising, visit the theatre website or call 0207 229 0706.

- by Hannah Kennedy