This autumn there’s a new kid on the block in the rich diversity of theatres in London. Tucked away in the Ladbroke Grove area of west London on Latimer Road, just a ten-minute walk from Latimer Road tube station, The Playground Theatre will open its doors for the first time this October in a converted bus depot in one of the most culturally diverse areas of the capital. The opening season for The Playground will be announced later in the spring.
Anthony Biggs, who last month announced that he will be leaving his post as Artistic Director of Jermyn Street Theatre this Summer, will join as co-artistic director with the founder of The Playground Theatre company, actor and producer Peter Tate. Previously the Playground has had a long history of supporting artists to create their theatrical visions. Having won the Samuel Beckett award for innovative theatre and worked with many world-class artists, in its new role as a fully functioning venue, The Playground Theatre will continue working with both established and emerging artists to strive to create work that is bold and imaginative, whilst fully engaging the rich diversity of the community of which it is part.
Designed by Jonathan Mizzi Studio with a restoration and conversion budget of £270,000 The Playground Theatre will have a seating capacity of 150 to 200, a totally flexible stage, a full lighting rig, a state of the art sound system and two dressing rooms. The theatre will also include a sumptuous front of house area, which will house the box office and a café bar serving throughout the day.
With the celebrated actors Celia Imrie and Cherie Lunghi and the great ballerina Lyn Seymour as patrons, The Playground’s artistic policy will have excellence at its heart and, as the name implies, it will also be a place for play, experimentation, risk and above all fun.
Tate originally founded The Playground in 2001 as a space to allow artists the time and freedom to explore and play with their theatrical ideas without the pressure to force their work into a box too early. Since then it has played host to and supported some of most dynamic theatrical talent from the UK and around the world, both established and emerging, as well as film and television companies. Artists, who have worked their, include Hideki Noda, Japan’s acclaimed actor, director and playwright, Henryk Baranowski, winner of both Poland’s and Russia’s top award as director, Marcello Magni, co-founder of Complicite and John Caird. Others including Simon McBurney and Rufus Norris have used the space many times to create some of their finest work. When it opens as a theatre it will continue its function as a development and rehearsal studio during the day welcoming artists to create new work and consolidating its reputation for play and experimentation The Playground will also function as a local amenity with café bar and a programme of community engagement activity.
Peter Tate says: “To create this theatre physically is one thing, but what happens beyond the 18th century theatre entrance doors is another. That is the challenge- to create work of a high quality that engages the audience. I am very excited about being joined by Anthony Biggs, as co-artistic director, as I knew, from our first meeting, that we were speaking the same language and that we would work very well together.”
Anthony Biggs says:
“The Playground is such a creative space and I’m thrilled to be joining it on the next stage on its journey. It has the potential to be the Almeida of West London – a place where our artists are encouraged to take risks, where our audiences are both challenged and entertained.”
Biggs leaves Jermyn Street Theatre at the end of August to take up his new role at The Playground. His final production at Jermyn Street will be the UK premiere of Maxim Gorky’s The Last Ones, which opens on 7 June 2017.