Southwark Playhouse established an award-winning reputation at its previous warehouse studio premises – less than half the size of the new address - off Southwark Bridge Road in south London, but was forced to vacate the venue by the landlord last year (See News, 9 Feb 2006).
The theatre now expects to be based under London Bridge station for three years before moving yet again to a purpose-built 200-seat space at the Elephant and Castle, where it has been chosen for inclusion in a new development by Developer First Base. DFB’s planning application has highlighted plans for the demolition of the old London Park Hotel and the construction of a Richard Rogers designed, 470 residential unit, mixed-use scheme. Southwark Playhouse will be given a theatre complex ready to house an auditorium and a dedicated education and community space.
Commenting on the new London Bridge location, Chris Smyrnios, who has remained chief executive of Southwark Playhouse since the closure, said: “These new premises herald a new phase for us. Audiences and directors will be presented with the best kind of theatre challenge. The arches are inherently so dramatic – performances will have to match up. This is a fresh start for the Playhouse. We’ll be building on our past successes while looking to push the boundaries of our work and our organisation as a whole.”
The inaugural season at London Bridge commences with a site-specific production of Reverence - A Tale of Abelard and Heloise, an atmospheric version of the classic French love story which follows the passionate affair of Abelard and Heloise and the tragedy which tears them apart. The production is presented by Goat and Monkey Theatre, whose previous projects include The Ghost Sonata, Contagion, Fury, Visual Hallucinations and Mullet.
Reverence runs from 28 August to 22 September 2007. It’s followed by Southwark’s annual Shakespeare production, Richard III (26 September to 20 October), in collaboration with Tangram Theatre, and Gavin McAlinden’s revival of Moss Hart and George S Kaufman’s 1930s comedy You Can't Take It With You (24 October to 17 November). The season will employ a new airline-style pricing policy with tickets, starting at £7, cheaper the earlier they’re booked.
Southwark Playhouse was formed in 1993 with the aim of creating thriving, dynamic and inventive theatre in one of the most deprived parts of London. The previous venue was a former Victorian tea and coffee warehouse and established itself as one of capital’s most prominent studio venues, nominated three times for the Peter Brook Empty Space Award.
- by Tom Atkins