At Nottingham Playhouse we make bold and thrilling theatre. It is world-class, made in Nottingham and as diverse as our community.
The first home of the Playhouse was a converted cinema in Goldsmith Street, where, under the leadership of firstly Andre Van Gyseghem then John Harrison, Val May and Frank Dunlop, the Playhouse won a loyal local audience, while achieving national acclaim for productions that were a triumph of creativity over cramped conditions.
During the 1950s it became clear that the company needed premises better suited to its prestige and plans. This need was handsomely met when the City Council built the present Playhouse to a striking design by the award winning architect Peter Moro in 1962. In 1996 it received grade II* listed status in recognition of its outstanding architectural quality.
In 2004 over £1.8m was invested in the Playhouse using monies raised from Heritage Lottery Fund, Nottingham City Council, Sir Harry Djanogly and Arts and Business as well as a very successful fundraising campaign with the public. These funds enabled us to create a new bar and restaurant, CAST, and to invest in a new education space.
The Playhouse is a proscenium theatre with an auditorium that can seat 750. The particularly generous foyer areas mean that there is ample and interesting space for presenting small scale productions, concerts, exhibitions and talks. The building is fully accessible, both front and back stage.
When the new Playhouse opened in 1963 with Sir Tyrone Guthrie’s production of CORIOLANUS, its artistic direction was shared between Frank Dunlop, John Neville and Peter Ustinov. Building on the foundations of existing innovative work, subsequent artistic directors were Stuart Burge, Richard Eyre, Geoffrey Reeves, Richard Digby Day, Kenneth Alan Taylor, Pip Broughton and Martin Duncan. The Senior Management Team is now Stephanie Sirr, Chief Executive and Giles Croft, Artistic Director.
Highlights of Nottingham Playhouse’s recent work include: the British premiere of Robert Lepage’s POLYGRAPH, the world premieres of RAT PACK CONFIDENTIAL by Paul Sirett (which transferred to the West End), ANGELS AMONG THE TREES by Jonathan Holloway and ETHEL AND ERNEST by Stephen Churchett, THE MAN WHO by Peter Brook and Marie-Helene Estienne and CHICKEN SOUP WITH BARLEY, all directed by Giles Croft; David Farr’s innovative production of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW; the world premiere of Steven Berkoff’s RITUAL IN BLOOD, directed by Tim Walker; THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES and THE TEMPEST both directed by Richard Baron, THE SPIRIT OF THE MAN by Stephen Lowe and the British premiere of THE BURIAL AT THEBES directed by Lucy Pitman Wallace and adapted by Seamus Heaney. Recent productions by Giles Croft include an adaptation of TO REACH THE CLOUDS by Nick Drake, the world premiere of ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT adapted by Robin Kingsland and THE WHITE ALBUM by Michael Pinchbeck.
Over the past 3 years the Playhouse has been nominated for 15 awards – winning City Life Best Production for RAT PACK CONFIDENTIAL and Best Actress for Seroca Davies in LITTLE SWEET THING (MEN Awards). In 2005 the theatre was short-listed for MOST WELCOMING UK THEATRE at the TMA awards.
National partners include Birmingham Rep, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, Salisbury Playhouse, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Kneehigh, English Touring Theatre, Shared Experience, Northern Stage, Sadler’s Wells, Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn and Theatre Centre.
The Playhouse tours extensively – in 2003 MOON ON A RAINBOW SHAWL, in 2004 MOTHER COURAGE and in 2005 LITTLE SWEET THING. A revival of THE RAILWAY CHILDREN was seen at the Peacock in London. In recent years Nottingham Playhouse’s work has been seen in over 40 towns and cities nationally and internationally. RAT PACK CONFIDENTIAL transferred to London’s Whitehall Theatre in September 2003, LITTLE SWEET THING to Hampstead Theatre, The Railway Children to The Peacock Theatre and CHICKEN SOUP WITH BARLEY for an extended run at The Tricycle in 2005 and in 2006 SUMMER AND SMOKE transferred to the West End.
International partnerships have enabled touring to Europe and Japan with THE TEMPEST, directed by the Romanian, Silviu Purcarete, co-produced with Theatr Clwyd and the Hebbel Theater, Berlin; touring to Madrid, Oporto, Rome, Wiesbaden and Paris with MEASURE FOR MEASURE and FIRST LOVE by Beckett in Frankfurt and Berlin in September 2000.
In 2000 Nottingham Playhouse was invited to become the first English member of the prestigious European Theatre Convention and Giles Croft is now its Vice President. In June 2002 the Playhouse Roundabout Theatre and Education Company production of THE NIGHT MAZE was performed at the ETC Festival, Euro Thalia, in Bratislava and in May 2004 Roundabout again represented the UK at Meijnfest in Nova Gorica, Slovenia with a piece called MOHAMMED. In 2005 Roundabout co-created a project with the Thalia Theatre Hamburg, MIA. Roundabout’s other work includes workshops, residencies, training and performances in schools.
Many artists and companies visit the Playhouse. These have included Peter Brook, Robert Lepage, Steven Berkoff, the Maly Theatre of St Petersburg, Wim Vandekeybus, the Market Theatre of Johannesburg, Northern Stage, Stephen Petronio Dance Company, Michael Clarke, Paco Pena, the Ghana Dance Ensemble, Garth Fagan Dance Company from New York, the National Theatre of Norway and the Teshigawara Company from Japan. We also invite a number of companies and artists to visit our theatre for shorter periods that make up our exciting Event Weeks.
The Playhouse’s foyers are used for an enormously wide range of workshops, performances, talks and exhibitions. These are a vital part of a vigorous audience development programme, offering disadvantaged members of the community their first visit to the theatre.
Many of Nottingham Playhouse’s recent achievements are made possible through generous sponsorships with local and national companies. The Playhouse is generously supported by the Arts Council England (East Midlands) and the councils of Nottinghamshire County, Nottingham City and the Boroughs of Gedling, Rushcliffe and Broxtowe.
SKY MIRROR a sculpture by Anish Kapoor situated on our forecourt allows the Playhouse to build new partnerships within the visual arts sector as well as creating a magnificent new gateway for its audiences. Whilst our award winning restaurant/bar/deli, CAST, provides the perfect environment to eat, drink and relax day or night.
The staff of Nottingham Playhouse extends a warm welcome to you.