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Get off the beaten track and discover something new with these off-west end theatres!
By Sophia Moss (follow Sophia on Twitter: @EndlessMoss)
The theatre is a magical place. It’s a place where you can leave real life at the door, sit back, relax and enjoy the atmosphere of a live performance. We in London are spoilt for choice when it comes to theatre and there is always something on. The West End puts on a lot of fantastic shows which are definitely worth seeing, but that doesn’t mean the West End is the only place you can go if you fancy a trip to the theatre.
There are many smaller venues all over the capital which display new plays, new ideas and new actors. These are places where you can explore different types of theatre and perhaps even have a pint in the adjacent pub afterwards! Many smaller theatres also sell cheaper tickets and/or have ‘pay what you can’ performance nights to help ensure that even someone who is truly Broke in London doesn’t miss out, and if you have always wanted to direct/write your own productions then any of these places can help. If you’re interested in getting off the beaten track and delving into the world of off-West End theatre then you can start right here.
#9 | Above The Stag Theatre
Above The Stag Theatre is an award winning full-time LGBT theatre which is the only one of its kind in the U.K. They are currently running a comedy called Bitches Ahoy which puts a new spin on the standard ‘Brits abroad’ idea, and from the 8th of March they will be showcasing a play entitled ‘Souther Baptist Sissies’ which is the story of four gay boys growing up in a religious American community.
Where? Above The Stag is located near Vauxhall tube/train station and can be accessed by several local bus routes. The full address is Arch 17, Miles Street, SW8 1RZ. For more information please see here.
When? Above The Stag hosts numerous performances throughout the year. For a list of what’s on at the moment please click here.
#8 | Greenwich Theatre
Greenwich Theatre is committed to supporting grass root ideas and is always on the lookout for future talent. They do a lot of work with and for children and young people and they host many companies in various capacities throughout the year. From the 22nd of February until the 12th of March they will be showcasing the rock musical ‘Lizzie’, a new take on the infamous Lizzie Borden who is thought to have murdered her parents in 1892.
Where? Greenwich Theatre is located on Crooms Hill SE10 8ES. It is within walking distance from Greenwich and Cutty Sark DLR stations as well as Greenwich train station and it is en-route for several local buses. For full directions see here.
When? Lizzie is running until the 12th of March, but this theatre will host a lot of other shows and events throughout the year. For more information on what’s on click here.
#7 | The Cockpit
Map of The Cockpit, image taken from http://thecockpit.org.uk/your_visit
The Cockpit theatre is trying to reinvent provocative and socio-political fringe theatre so that they can challenge and critique the current system and explore new ideas through the stage. They have a range of shows, musical performances and other events throughout the year. Upcoming events include ‘Theatre In The Pound’, a night each month where they showcase new work and provide a platform for directors, writers and actors to gain experience and showcase their work for just £1. There is also a ‘night of opera’ on the 7th of March and a play called ‘Barred Freedom’ running from the 20th until the 25th of March.
Where? The Cockpit theatre is located on Gateforth street about 7 minutes walk away from Edgeware Road and Marylebone tube stations. For directions please see here.
When? For a list of up and coming events click here.
#6 | The Hope Theatre
This 50-seat theatre is located above the Hope and Anchor pub in Islington, north London. This was the first off West End theatre to open with an agreement with Equity, the performers union, and they like to focus on big ideas and new companies. From the 21st of March till the 8th of April they will be hosting a show called ‘kicked in the sh**ter’ which explores poverty and mental health in today’s Britain, and there are numerous other plays running throughout the year. If you yourself are a writer, director and/or a company which wishes to stage your work then this theatre may be able to help you.
Where? The Hope Theatre is located at 207 Upper Street, Islington N1 1RL. It is within walking distance from Highbury & Islington tube stations as well as several bus routes. For more info see here.
When? There are numerous performances running throughout the year. For more info on what’s on click here.
#5 | Theatre503
Theatre503 is a small award winning theatre located above the Latchmere Pub in Clapham. They are committed to supporting new writers and companies and in the last 18 months alone they have had 169 new writers perform their work at Theatre503. If you are a budding playwright then why not go along to their Writers’ Night event and take part in the ‘Rapid Write Response’ team for a chance to have your work performed at the theatre? Some performances also adopt a ‘pay what you can’ approach to keeping the theatre accessible for everyone.
Where? Theatre503 is located on the corner of Latchmere Road and Battersea Park road. The nearest rail station is Clapham Junction and it is advisable to catch the 49, 319, 344 or 345 buses to the ‘Latchmere’ bus stop.
When? There are various performances and events taking place throughout the year. For more information see here.
#4 | Jermyn Street Theatre
Jermyn Street Theatre is London’s leading off-west studio located in the heart of the city. The theatre has been going strong since 1994 and they won the Stage Best Fringe Theatre award in 2012. They are currently running a show called ‘Beau Brummell – An Elegant Madness’, a black comedy which explores the mind of ‘the most stylish man of his day’ as he resides in a madhouse in Calais. There is also ‘The Frogs’, a satirical comedy/musical, which will open on the 14th of March.
Where? The theatre is located on 16n Jermyn Street, London, SW1Y 6ST. The closest tube is Piccadilly Circus. For more information see here.
When? There are various performances taking place throughout the year. For a list of what’s on right now please see here.
#3 | Camden People’s Theatre
This is a 22-year-old theatre which is dedicated to supporting new artists and focuses n unconventional and important performances. From the 27th of February until the 15th of May they are running a series of non-traditional performances called ‘Live 56’. These shows specifically acknowledge the audience and play around with issues, ideas and avant-garde ways of performing for just £5 a ticket! There is also a performance entitled ‘Egg’ running from the 3rd until the 4th of March which follows the life of an egg from its inception to its demise.
Where? The Camden Theatre is opposite Sainsbury’s Local just two minutes walk away from Euston station, Warren Street station and Euston-square.
When? There are numerous performances all year round. See here for a list of what’s on.
#2 | Arcola Theatre
The Arcola theatre is a diverse, cutting-edge theatre which offers accessible ticket pricing and pay what you can’ Tuesday evenings! They are currently running a play entitled ‘New Nigerians’ which satires populism politics, they are also running a play called ‘The Cherry Orchard’ which focuses on family ruin and the Russian revolution, and the Arcola theatre also runs various workshops and mentor schemes to help up and coming artists find their way to the stage.
Where? The theatre is located at 24 Ashwin Street, Dalston, E8 3DL. It is around two minutes walk away from Dalston Junction on the overground and it is served by various local bus routes. Click here to plan your visit.
When? For a full list of what’s on please see here.
#1 | Chickenshed
In 1974 musician/composer Jo Collins and teacher/director Mary Ward started a theatre company in a chicken shed. Today the company has moved to a purpose-built venue in North London and they host children’s performances, plays, and a series of courses and educational projects. They are currently running a series of interactive theatre shows aimed at young children called ‘Tales from the Shed’ and a political comedy entitled ‘Trumpets and Raspberries’.
Where? The Chickenshed has located 10 minutes away from Cockfosters tube station on the Piccadilly line. For directions please see here.
When? For a full list of upcoming events click here.