London Theatre Company announces the first productions at its new Bridge Theatre, which opens this October on the river by Tower Bridge and City Hall.
The theatre opens on 26 October 2017 (previews from 18 October) with a new comedy, Young Marx by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman, directed by Nicholas Hytner with Rory Kinnear in the title role. This is followed in January by Julius Caesar, staged in promenade by Nicholas Hytner, with Ben Whishaw and David Morrissey. Then in April comes a new play, Nightfall, by rising playwright and novelist Barney Norris, directed by Laurie Sansom. Tickets for these three productions go on sale today (priority booking from 19 April, public booking opens 27April) priced from £15 to £65 with a limited number of premium seats available.
From summer 2018, productions will include a new play by Lucinda Coxon based on the novel Alys, Always by Harriet Lane; a new play by Nina Raine about JS Bach, played by Simon Russell Beale; flatpack, a new play by John Hodge; The Black Cloud, a new play by Sam Holcroft from the novel by Fred Hoyle; and Carmen Havana, a version of Bizet’s opera by Lucy Prebble with choreography by Miguel Altunaga and directed by Nicholas Hytner.
London Theatre Company, which was founded by Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr on leaving the National Theatre after twelve years, will focus on the commissioning and production of new shows, as well as staging the occasional classic. At The Bridge, it will present four or five new productions year-round, playing Tuesday to Sunday, plus a Monday night programme which will include intimate gigs, the live recording of a new podcast series and conversations on food, fashion, politics and science.
Backed by a small group of senior Venture Capital investors, LTC’s raison d’être is to create a culture, ethos and economic model that supports writers, directors, designers and actors to work at scale in a space that is complementary to those of the subsidised theatre and West End. In time LTC hopes to open more theatres in London, to be able to host productions from the subsidised theatre, and to transfer its own productions to the West End and beyond.
LTC commissioned the new theatre from architect Steve Tompkins. He and his colleague Roger Watts at Haworth Tompkins have designed a 900-seat adaptable auditorium that can respond to shows with different formats, among them end-stage, thrust-stage and promenade (each of which will be used in the course of the opening three productions).
The Bridge is the first wholly new theatre of scale to be added to London’s commercial theatre sector in 80 years, and the first to be built outside the historic West End. It has a stunning riverside location at the foot of Tower Bridge next to City Hall and is 5-10 minutes’ walk from the transport hub of London Bridge, whose new concourse opens onto Tooley Street in spring next year. The Bridge is situated in Berkeley Homes’ One Tower Bridge development amongst ten new restaurants opening this year.
Haworth Tompkins, who won the Stirling Prize in 2014 for the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool, collaborated frequently with Nick Starr and Nicholas Hytner at the National Theatre, including on the recent NT refurbishment, the Shed and NT Studio and also with Nick Starr on the Almeida’s two temporary theatres at King’s Cross and at Gainsborough Studios.
The Bridge auditorium is a collaboration between Haworth Tompkins, LTC and Tait Stage Technologies – winner of two Queen’s Awards for Export. It is made of precision-engineered steel with oak finishes in a modular construction – a first of its kind – which also incorporates the air conditioning, house lights, power and data.
Nicholas Hytner said: “We want to make bold popular theatre. We’ve commissioned ambitious plays that reach out to embrace the audience, and we’ve built an environment for them that is exciting, welcoming and flexible: a theatre that can be changed to suit the show. We reckon that London needs new theatres, designed for the shows that people make in the 21 st century and the expectations that audiences have for a really good night out.”
Nick Starr said: “After the National Theatre, it was time for something new and scary. London is a brilliant city for making and seeing theatre, evidenced by the 25% increase in audiences over the last fifteen years. We think there’s room for a new independent on the scene, driven by both a mission and a bottom line. We hope that will resonate with artists and audiences, and are hugely looking forward to welcoming them to The Bridge.”
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