WhatsOnStage Logo
Home link
Theatre News

New theatre to open in Westminster Houses of Parliament

The brand new space will be a permanent fixture in the House of Commons

The proposed site for the James Graham Theatre
© Alex Wood

A brand new theatre is to open in the Palace of Westminster, it has been confirmed today.

The venue, which is being named the James Graham Theatre, is due to open in 2020 and will be dedicated to theatre dealing with Britain's current political issues.

The permanent space will take over the Commons Chamber, where politicians currently attempt to debate and vote on UK laws. It will utilise the room's existing sense of drama and its layout, with the iconic green benches, the speaker's chair and the table of the house in the central aisle all remaining.

John Bercow, speaker of the House of Commons, will also maintain his position, overseeing and interjecting throughout any one performance, in order to keep a strong connection with the history and original purpose of the building.

The architect behind the project said: "We are so excited about turning the Commons Chamber into a theatre. The arts are a key political tool and we think it's highly likely that more will be decided in the space as a cultural hub, than it ever was as the UK's centre of political life."

It joins the list of several other new theatres due to open in the UK very soon, which include the Boulevard Theatre, the Troubadour spaces, Southwark Playhouse and the sister venue to the The Bridge in King's Cross.

Casts for the shows at the James Graham Theatre will be taken from the current roster of MPs, who will all be signed up to Equity forthwith. Shows being considered for the programme include All Quiet on the Western Front starring Jeremy Corbyn, a stage remake of Abi Morgan's The Iron Lady starring Theresa May, Posh starring Jacob Rees Mogg, Boris Johnson, David Cameron (who will return to the Commons for the first time in months for the occasion), Nigel Farage and George Osborne (again returning to the Commons after a significant absence). A site-specific production of Graham's This House is also due to run.

Bercow commented: "A core focus of the programme will be on farces, because, let's face it, it's easiest to stick with what you're familiar with."

When asked where the UK will have it's political debates from now on, the architects said: "We don't think we'll need anywhere else, to be honest. We weren't entirely sure that much was happening there anyway. At least now it'll be more entertaining for the British people."

The opening show will be Brexit, the Musical which has a booking period of at least two years, and will likely extend indefinitely.