London is probably the premier location in the world today for theatre lovers. There is something for everyone whether it’s a popular West End musical or a Shakespearian drama at the Globe. Theatre going can be a rather expensive activity with tickets for some of the most popular West End shows costing as much as £80 for a standard seats and £150 for premier, however restricted view seating can be had for as little as £15 in some theatres. On the other hand, if your budget is restricted but you don’t want your view to be then you can opt for a play at one of the Fringe theatres where the setting is more intimate and the costs much less. There are so many theatres to choose from in London that it would take a book to mention them all so here is a brief overview of what to expect.
West end theatres
London theatres are usually categorised into three main areas; West End; Repertoire and The Fringe. The West End theatres are mostly located in the West End of London and stage mainly expensive, commercial productions such as some of the most popular musical-theatre shows of the day. These attract the majority of theatre-goers, including lots of tourists as well as the dedicated fans who will attend the same show many times over just for the wonderful experience they enjoy so much.
The National Theatre and The Shakespeare Globe Theatre are the main repertory theatres in London. The National Theatre is fortunate to be subsidised which means it can experiment with the type of shows it puts on. It can introduce new untried writers who may not automatically attract a large audience; however some of the most interesting writers and plays have had their start there. The Globe Theatre produces mainly Shakespearian plays but their season is limited and runs from April to September.
Regional and fringe theatres
There are also a few London theatres that are referred to as regional, such as the Richmond Theatre which is a receiving house meaning that touring shows will have a short run of a few weeks here before going on tour around the country. In addition, there are quite a number of much smaller theatres in and around London and these are usually referred to as the Fringe or Off West End. They have smaller seating capacities and tickets are much less expensive but they provide a great experience in a more intimate setting.
A favourite of ours is the London Theatre at New Cross which is a fringe theatre hosting a self-contained theatre with an accompanying bar which is available only to its theatre goers. The theatre has its own unique ambiance and character and is proud of its Eco credentials being part of the Theatre Trust initiative for energy efficiency monitoring. It also has its own acting classes available to the general public boasting a number of its students with no previous acting skills making the grade to professional theatre, TV and film productions. Their comedy training centre trains over five hundred comics every year and uniquely uses successful stand-up comics to help train their students.
Support our theatres
Theatres need support in a variety of ways to survive but the key area is always financial. In times of financial hardship it can be one of the first aspects of expenditure that people cut back on. Government funding is also on the wane and this combination of factors has seen many theatres experience financial difficulties to the extent of facing bankruptcy.
But it is not just the theatres who can find themselves struggling financially it also has a direct impact on the actors, technicians and staff. Many have found that irregular employment, wages cuts and the loss of jobs has led to financial difficulties and problems with personal debt. Some have found themselves forced into formal debt management solutions such as trust deeds or IVAs in order to resolve their financial circumstances.
So the rallying call is to support our theatres in any way you can by simply continuing to visit, promote and recommend them to friends and family or even help with their campaigns and fund raising efforts if you are able to.
It’s all here
The great thing about London is the quality and variety of theatre entertainment on offer. This makes it the ideal location for a city break for the theatre enthusiast. With a wealth of excellent hotels to suit most pockets and top-notch restaurants to suit every palate then why look anywhere else. So, take your pick. London has much to attract theatre lovers and if you enjoy the experience come back here and share it with us.