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Hobbit Stars Campaign for Southwark Playhouse

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The future of established London fringe venue Southwark Playhouse is under threat due to redevelopment work at London Bridge Station.

According to the venue’s website, the theatre will have to find new premises from December 2012 as Network Rail has “no plans to reincorporate the venue in to the new station”, work on which will take over five years to complete.

The statement continues: “While we are looking to move to one of several exciting spaces in 2013, it is likely that they will only be available on short term leases … We need to convince Network Rail that Southwark Playhouse will be a great benefit to the new station and the surrounding community.”

The venue is inviting members of the public to email the case officer at Southwark Playhouse, Gordon Adams, expressing support for the venue’s inclusion in the new station. Actors including Stephen Fry and venue patron Andy Serkis, who are currently in New Zealand working on The Hobbit, are among those who have expressed support for the campaign on Twitter.

Southwark Playhouse relocated to its current home - two railway arches under London Bridge station - in 2007 after the owners of its original home, off Southwark Bridge Road, decided not to renew its lease. It was hoped at the time that the theatre would move to a purpose-built 200-seat space at Elephant and Castle next year, but a spokesperson told Whatsonstage.com that this is now “completely off”.

They added, “It’s not the case that we’re campaigning to save the theatre, more that we feel our current venue is the best home for the company and for our regular theatregoers.”

Established in 1993 by Juliet Alderdice, Tom Wilson and Mehmet Ergen (now artistic director of the Arcola), Southwark Playhouse has established itself as a leading fringe venue under artistic directors including Erica Whyman, Thea Sharrock, Gareth Machin, Ellie Jones and current incumbent Chris Smyrnios.


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