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Southwark Playhouse

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Southwark Playhouse
Southwark Playhouse
Address77-85 Newington Causeway
London, SE1 6BD
Coordinates51°29′52″N 0°05′55″W / 51.4976522°N 0.0984833°W / 51.4976522; -0.0984833
Public transitLondon Underground Elephant & Castle
National Rail Elephant & Castle
TypeOff West End Theatre
ProductionGuest productions
Opened1993; 31 years ago (1993)

Southwark Playhouse is a theatre in London, located between Borough and Elephant and Castle tube stations.


The Southwark Playhouse Theatre Company was founded in 1993 by Juliet Alderdice and Tom Wilson. They identified the need for a high quality accessible theatre which would also act as a major resource for the community. They leased a disused workshop in a then comparatively neglected part of Southwark and turned it into a flexible theatre space.

The theatre quickly put down strong roots in Southwark, developing an innovative, free-at-source education programme.[1] It has worked closely with teachers, Southwark Borough Council, businesses and government agencies to improve educational achievement and raise aspirations.[citation needed] This programme is in great demand and attracts substantial funding each year.[citation needed]

Over the next fifteen years the theatre established itself as one of London's leading studio theatres,[2] presenting high quality work by new and emerging theatre practitioners. Under successive artistic directors, Mehmet Ergen (now Artistic Director of the Arcola Theatre), Erica Whyman (subsequently Artistic Director of the Northern Stage Company and deputy Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company), Thea Sharrock and Gareth Machin (now Artistic Director of Salisbury Playhouse), it has become an indispensable part of small-scale fringe theatre in London. Its venue hire rates remain among the lowest and therefore the most competitive in London theatre, providing the opportunity to host the best of the emerging companies based in or visiting the capital.

Tooley Street venue (2006-2013)

Southwark Playhouse has moved venues twice in its 20-year history. After leaving its original home in Southwark Bridge Road in 2006, the theatre operated in vaults beneath platform one of London Bridge railway station, accessed from Tooley Street, from 2007 until early 2013. Since early 2013 the theatre has been based at 77-85 Newington Causeway.[3]

As of 2023 Southwark Playhouse has two venues in the Elephant & Castle area, Southwark Playhouse Borough (still based in 77-85 Newington Causeway) and Southwark Playhouse Elephant (located at Dante Place).[4]

Since 2009, the Playhouse also offers an opportunity to develop to young people (between the age of 11 and 18) living in the areas of Southwark, Lambeth and Lewisham, coming part of YoCo, their Young People Company.[5][6]

The Playhouse also has an acting group for people aged 65 and over (the Elders Company) performing short plays onstage[7] and a People's Company for anyone aged 25 or over.[8]


In July 2012 it was announced that, due to the redevelopment of London Bridge Station, Southwark Playhouse would not be able to keep its home underneath the arches of the station. After a high-profile public campaign backed by Stephen Fry and Andy Serkis,[9] a space was secured in the new station complex as part of a Section 106 agreement with Network Rail which will allow the theatre to return to its London Bridge premises in 2021.[10]

Since 2013 Southwark Playhouse has been based at 77-85 Newington Causeway, in a 3-floor warehouse between Borough and Elephant and Castle tube stations. The temporary theatre, opened in May 2013, houses two performance spaces: a 240-seat main house known as the large and a 120-seat studio, 'the little'. There is also a rehearsal space and a bar/cafe area.[11]

The original plan for the theatre was to return to its Tooley Street location once the London Bridge redevelopment was completed in 2018. As of October 2020 this has not yet happened and the temporary home on Newington Causeway remains, but a new permanent 300-seat venue on Newington Butts is currently planned to be opened by 2021, along with a secondary satellite venue at Tooley Street with two spaces holding 200 and 150 seats. Funding is still in progress for these new sites to be opened.[12]


In January 2019, a production of All in a Row sparked controversy over the way that an autistic person was being represented in puppet form.[13][14][15]


Notable shows through its history are:



  1. ^ "Southwark Playhouse". British Theatre. Retrieved 14 June 2023.
  2. ^ Gardner, Lyn (2 August 2011). "Noises off: Don't leave Southwark Playhouse without a home". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 July 2013. one of the most important venues on the London fringe
  3. ^ "Southwark Playhouse secures temporary home in Elephant & Castle - - News -". Archived from the original on 19 November 2012.
  4. ^ "Southwark Playhouse Elephant - Seating Plan, Location, Shows". London Theatre. Retrieved 13 June 2023.
  5. ^ "Southwark Playhouse". British Theatre. Retrieved 14 June 2023.
  6. ^ "Southwark Playhouse Young Company | Theatre and Drama Workshops, Classes, Experience". Retrieved 14 June 2023.
  7. ^ Lewis, Barbara. "Southwark Playhouse Elders Company Plays for Today. Review by Barbara Lewis. –". Retrieved 24 June 2023.
  8. ^ "Participate". Southwark Playhouse. Retrieved 24 June 2023. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help); External link in |last= (help)
  9. ^ Roberts, Laura (12 April 2012). "Stephen Fry leads campaign to keep Southwark playhouse on track".
  10. ^ [1][dead link]
  11. ^ Trueman, Matt (14 November 2012). "Southwark Playhouse announces details of new temporary home". The Guardian. London.
  12. ^ "Future Playhouse".
  13. ^ Masso, Giverny (15 February 2019). "Graeae and Hijinx criticise 'disappointing' use of puppet in autism play". The Stage. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  14. ^ "Casting a puppet as an autistic child is a grotesque step backwards". The Guardian. 12 February 2019. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  15. ^ "Statement from Chris Smyrnios, Artistic Director of Southwark Playhouse". All in a Row is Ableist. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  16. ^ Admin. "In the Heights – Southwark Playhouse | Musical Theatre Review". Retrieved 13 June 2023.
  17. ^ "In the Heights (Southwark Playhouse)". 16 May 2014. Retrieved 13 June 2023.
  18. ^ "In the Heights (King's Cross Theatre)". 13 October 2015. Retrieved 13 June 2023.
  19. ^ Meyer, Dan (4 March 2020). "A London Revival of The Last Five Years Opens at Southwark Playhouse".
  20. ^ Benedict, David (9 October 2020). "'The Last Five Years' Review: Smart Revival in London Theater Cleverly Redesigned for Social Distance". Variety. Retrieved 13 June 2023.

External links

This page was last edited on 15 October 2023, at 00:48
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