Wanna have some fun? Mates Celia Imrie, Cherie Lunghi and ballerina Lyn Seymour have thrown their weight behind The Playground Theatre, a new fringe venue opening in West London this autumn.
Tucked away Latimer Road, in the Ladbroke Grove area, a converted former bus depot has undergone £270,000 restoration to become The Playground and it will open its doors to the public for the first time this October.
Anthony Biggs, who last month announced his departure from his post as artistic director of Jermyn Street Theatre, will join as co-artistic director working alongside the founder of The Playground, actor and producer Peter Tate.
In its new role as a fully functioning venue, The Playground Theatre will continue working with both established and emerging artists to create bold and imaginative work. Previously the Playground has had a long history of supporting artists, winning the Samuel Beckett award for innovative theatre.
The enhanced building 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.
Celebrated actors Celia Imrie and Cherie Lunghi, and Lyn Seymour have become patrons. The opening season for The Playground will be announced later in the spring.
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.
Artists, who have worked there, 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 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.
Peter Tate said: “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 said: “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.”