Tag Archives: London Theatres

The Windmill “we never close” and the war theatres.

What happened to theatres during war time? It’s something that feels particularly relevant given the level of disruption with which we are currently living. During WWI theatre was considered morale boosting for both civilians at home and soldiers. Entertainment was valued, although some also criticised its continuation as bad taste when so many were dying […]

Vaudeville and variety shows

In 1870, on The Strand, a new theatre opened. Built on the site of a failing billiard hall, behind two houses, Vaudeville theatre was crammed onto the site. It required access through a little labyrinth of passages, and had hardly any front of house or backstage. It seated over a thousand people on three tiers. […]

Sadler’s Wells – the home of dance

My theme – British theatre through the ages – has so far covered many forms of entertainment, but to date, I’ve omitted one key one: dance. So today, I’m off to Sadler’s Wells, home of ballet and dance. However, given the theatre’s long history, dance is a relatively recent arrival at Sadler’s Wells. In fact […]

The Old Vic – for those who dare

It’s a nickname, Old Vic, and it’s been around for a long time, since at least 1880. It stands for Royal Victoria Theatre. But that wasn’t its first name. Just like the Royal family, the theatre had a Germanic name – Royal Coburg Theatre. Designed in 1818 by Rudolph Cabanel, a German architect, the theatre […]

Lyceum (and Lyric): how to survive in London.

There are a few Lyceum theatres – Sheffield, Crewe, Oldham – but the one to mention is London’s Lyceum. It’s old. Originating in 1765 the Lyceum had several incarnations that don’t fit with modern theatres, including life as a chapel and hosting Madame Tussaud’s waxworks. When it was managed by Samuel Arnold (son of the […]

The Globe, Gilbert, Gaiety and Garrick: The West End connection

Theatres in London took off after the English Reformation when the first public playhouse was opened by James Burbage in 1576. It was simply named The Theatre. The next to open was call… The Curtain. The Theatre was dismantled and moved south of the River Thames, rebuilt and called The Globe. The Globe was owned […]

Duke and Dominion

Now we all know theatres are for plays and musicals, but not all theatres stick to one type of performance. In my first dip into London’s West End, the home of theatres, I’ve picked two, The Duke of York’s and the Dominion.  The Duke of York was built in 1892 with four tiers (eventually reduced […]

Brutal Barbican

In the City of London there is an estate, liked and loathed (voted in 2003 London’s ugliest building), and home to residential housing, a museum, schools, concert hall and a theatre. The area it occupies was devastated by WW2 bombings.  Known as the Barbican complex, it is an example of Brutalism – or Brutal Architecture. […]

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