If you needed proof how successful west London’s tiny Gate Theatre has been in picking talented directors to run it, you should have poked your head into the Gate’s 30th anniversary gala last night (11 November 2009) at the Porchester Banqueting Hall in Queensway.

The Gate’s most famous one-time artistic director Stephen Daldry - these days more often pictured abroad opening productions of Billy Elliot or shooting Oscar-winning films like The Reader - presided over last night’s festivities, which had the aim of raising £30,000 as well as celebrating 30 years of theatre-making.

But Daldry wasn’t the only AD in the room. Other now-famous former Gate bosses were also on hand - Thea Sharrock (whose recent credits include Equus with Daniel Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths in the West End and on Broadway), David Farr (also former artistic director of the Lyric Hammersmith and now a Royal Shakespeare Company associate director), Giles Croft (now artistic director of Nottingham Playhouse), Erica Whyman (now artistic director of Northern Stage), Mick Gordon, Laurence Boswell and founding director Lou Stein – along with current, twenty-something joint ADs Natalie Abrahami and Carrie Cracknell.

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It’s an incredible alumni list for a 70-seat theatre above a pub in Notting Hill Gate. But the Gate has a reputation as a springboard up-and-coming British talent, onstage as well as offstage. Amongst the actors and other celebrities with a Gate connection who attended last night were: Hayley Atwell, Eddie Redmayne, Ruth Wilson, Zoe Wanamaker, Gawn Grainger, Madeleine Potter, Elliot Cowan, Dexter Fletcher, Alan Rickman, Ruby Wax and Alan Yentob.

The evening included the premiere screening of the Gate 30th Birthday Film, which features a host of Gate alumni talking about their memories of the Gate over its 30-year history. There was also live auction offering a number of money-can't-buy prizes.

Established in 1979, the Gate was one of the first theatres to produce and collaborate with Eastern European theatre practitioners and opened the way for a rapid proliferation of international work on London’s stages. It remains the capital’s only theatre dedicated exclusively to producing international work. Current artistic directors Carrie Cracknell and Natalie Abrahami joined in March 2007, taking over from Thea Sharrock (See News, 6 Feb 2007). Earlier this year, they were awarded £254,000 from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation's Breakthrough Fund for their visionary work at the Gate (See Off-West End News, 29 May 2009).

For more information and to donate to the Gate’s 30th birthday campaign, visit the theatre website.