Theatre News

Riverside Studios to reopen with new stage adaptation of Persona

The 1930s film studio has undergone a five-year redevelopment

Riverside Studios
Riverside Studios
© Riverside Studios

The Riverside Studios has returned as a performance space after a five-year redevelopment, it was announced today.

The new building is part of a redevelopment in Hammersmith on the river Thames. It will open in three phases as an arts centre, after it was first launched 86 years ago as a film studio before becoming one of the original BBC TV studios in the 1950s.

Persona – the world premiere of a new theatrical adaptation of Ingmar Bergman's 1966 iconic Swedish psychological movie – is to be the opening production in Studio 3, one of the venue's new theatres.The story centres on a nurse and her patient, who has suddenly stopped speaking. The production is a new adaptation by director Paul Schoolman and will run from 21 January to 23 February.

Cast includes Alice Krige – who won the Olivier Award in 1981 for Most Promising Newcomer before two decades working in film and TV – and Nobuhle Ketelo, as well as director Schoolman. Bergman's voice will be used for the first time in the production as The Narrator. An original score will be composed and performed by William Close on the earth harp, production design will be by BAFTA Award-winner Fotini Dimou and videography by Filip Haglund.

Following Persona will be Love, Loss and Chianti from 25 February to 16 May. Starring Robert Bathurst and Rebecca Johnson, the production will run in parallel with A Scattering with The Song of Lunch by Christopher Reid and will be complemented by cartoonist Charles Peattie's animations.

From 18 to 24 May, the studio will host Liza Pulman's new show The Heart Of It. Following on from a sold-out tour, Liza Pulman Sings Streisand, the performer will reimagine songs by Randy Newman, Stevie Wonder, Michel Le Grand and Judy Collins.

Also opening in the Riverside Studios building will be the Studio 8 Café and Bar and adjacent coffee shop alongside Sam's Riverside, a new high-end brasserie by Sam Harrison. It will be shortly followed by the flagship television studio, Studio 1, run by Riverside TV Studios Ltd that will begin producing broadcasts for local and international audiences.

Opening in January will be Riverside's cinemas, with the films selected by curator Jason Wood, artistic director of film and culture and Rachel Hayward, head of film at HOME Manchester. The full programme will be announced in December. March 2020 will see the final public areas in the building open – Studio 2 is a flexible performance space with up to 500 seats, and Studio 5 is a rehearsal room that can also host community events and workshops. The programme for Studio 2 will be announced soon and will feature a year-long season of work selected and produced by Emily Dobbs (Revolver).

Artistic director William Burdett-Coutts said today: "To see Riverside Studios reopen its doors to the public is the culmination of a dream.

"Today the new building combines all these interests into a fantastic new public facility which can realise the potential for this incredible site in London. The artists that have passed through the building are legendary and we look forward to welcoming many more in future and making this a place the public feel they can enjoy and cherish."