Nottingham Playhouse
The Nottingham Playhouse is a theatre in Nottingham, England. It was first established as a repertory
Repertory or rep, also called stock in the United States, is a term used in Western theatre and opera.A repertory theatre can be a theatre in which a resident company presents works from a specified repertoire, usually in alternation or rotation...

 theatre in the 1950s when it operated from a former cinema. Directors during this period included Val May and Frank Dunlop
Frank Dunlop (director)
Frank Dunlop is a British theatre director.-Early life:Dunlop was born in Leeds, England to Charles Norman Dunlop and Mary Aarons...


The building

The current Modern movement theatre was opened in 1963. The architect was Peter Moro who had worked on the interior design of the Royal Festival Hall
Royal Festival Hall
The Royal Festival Hall is a 2,900-seat concert, dance and talks venue within Southbank Centre in London. It is situated on the South Bank of the River Thames, not far from Hungerford Bridge. It is a Grade I listed building - the first post-war building to become so protected...

 in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. It was initially controversial as it faces the gothic revival Roman Catholic cathedral
Nottingham Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of St. Barnabas in the city of Nottingham, England, is a cathedral of the Roman Catholic church. It is the mother church of the Diocese of Nottingham and seat of the Bishop of Nottingham.-Location:...

 designed by Augustus Pugin
Augustus Pugin
Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin was an English architect, designer, and theorist of design, now best remembered for his work in the Gothic Revival style, particularly churches and the Palace of Westminster. Pugin was the father of E. W...


The buildings received a Civic Trust Award in 1965. Despite the modern external appearance and the circular auditorium walls, the theatre has a conventional proscenium
A proscenium theatre is a theatre space whose primary feature is a large frame or arch , which is located at or near the front of the stage...

 layout, seating an audience of 770.

During the 1980s, when the concrete
Concrete is a composite construction material, composed of cement and other cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag cement, aggregate , water and chemical admixtures.The word concrete comes from the Latin word...

 interiors were out of fashion, the Playhouse suffered from insensitive "refurbishment" that sought to hide its character. Since 1996, it has been a Grade II* listed building and in 2004, the theatre was sympathetically restored and refurbished with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund
Heritage Lottery Fund
The Heritage Lottery Fund is a fund established in the United Kingdom under the National Lottery etc. Act 1993. The Fund opened for applications in 1994. It uses money raised through the National Lottery to transform and sustain the UK’s heritage...


The sculpture Sky Mirror
Sky Mirror
is a public sculpture by artist Anish Kapoor. Commissioned by the Nottingham Playhouse from the artist, it is installed outside the theatre in Wellington Circus, Nottingham, England. Sky Mirror is a six-metre-wide concave dish of polished stainless steel weighing ten tonnes and angled up towards...

by Anish Kapoor
Anish Kapoor
Anish Kapoor CBE RA is a British sculptor of Indian birth. Born in Mumbai , Kapoor has lived and worked in London since the early 1970s when he moved to study art, first at the Hornsey College of Art and later at the Chelsea School of Art and Design.He represented Britain in the XLIV Venice...

 was installed between the theatre and the adjacent green space of Wellington Circus in 2001 at a cost of £1.25m (£ as of ),. It is one of the main features of the 160 seat patio area of CAST Restaurant and in autumn 2007 won the Nottingham Pride of Place in a public vote to determine the City's favourite landmark.

Performance history

The new theatre's artistic direction was shared between Frank Dunlop and actor John Neville with Peter Ustinov
Peter Ustinov
Peter Alexander Ustinov CBE was an English actor, writer and dramatist. He was also renowned as a filmmaker, theatre and opera director, stage designer, author, screenwriter, comedian, humourist, newspaper and magazine columnist, radio broadcaster and television presenter...

 as associate.

The first production in the new theatre was Shakespeare's Coriolanus
Coriolanus (play)
Coriolanus is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1605 and 1608. The play is based on the life of the legendary Roman leader, Gaius Marcius Coriolanus.-Characters:*Caius Martius, later surnamed Coriolanus...

in a production by Tyrone Guthrie
Tyrone Guthrie
Sir William Tyrone Guthrie was an English theatrical director instrumental in the founding of the Stratford Festival of Canada, the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, at his family's home, Annaghmakerrig, in County Monaghan, Ireland.-Life and career:Guthrie...

. This included a young Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen
Sir Ian Murray McKellen, CH, CBE is an English actor. He has received a Tony Award, two Academy Award nominations, and five Emmy Award nominations. His work has spanned genres from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction...

 as Tullus Aufidius opposite Neville in the title role.

Subsequent artistic directors were Stuart Burge
Stuart Burge
Stuart Burge was an English film director, actor and producer.Educated at Felsted School, he originally trained as a civil engineer, but later began acting in theater in the 1940s, and became a director by 1948...

, Richard Eyre
Richard Eyre
Sir Richard Charles Hastings Eyre CBE is an English director of film, theatre, television, and opera.-Biography:Eyre was educated at Sherborne School, an independent school for boys in the market town of Sherborne in north-west Dorset in south-west England, followed by Peterhouse at the University...

, Geoffrey Reeves, Richard Digby Day
Richard Digby Day
Richard Digby Day is a British stage director and international professor and lecturer. He is particularly well-known for his work in the classical theater, and is considered to have a special penchant for the plays of William Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw...

, Kenneth Alan Taylor, Pip Broughton and Martin Duncan. The Playhouse is currently under the leadership of Stephanie Sirr, Chief Executive and Giles Croft Artistic Director.

The Playhouse has a strong tradition of new works for children, both in the form of original writing and more recently in the form of classic pantomime
Pantomime — not to be confused with a mime artist, a theatrical performer of mime—is a musical-comedy theatrical production traditionally found in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, South Africa, India, Ireland, Gibraltar and Malta, and is mostly performed during the...

s conceived by former artistic director Kenneth Alan Taylor. Taylor has directed 25 consecutive pantomimes at the theatre as of 2008.

In common with most producing theatres, Nottingham Playhouse no longer generally has a repertory
Repertory or rep, also called stock in the United States, is a term used in Western theatre and opera.A repertory theatre can be a theatre in which a resident company presents works from a specified repertoire, usually in alternation or rotation...

 approach to programming although it continues to create up to 13 new productions per annum. Its recent plays include Old Big 'Ead in The Spirit of the Man, a homage to Nottingham legend Brian Clough
Brian Clough
Brian Howard Clough, OBE was an English footballer and football manager. He is most notable for his success with Derby County and Nottingham Forest. His achievement of winning back-to-back European Cups with Nottingham Forest, a traditionally moderate provincial English club, is considered to be...

, Rat Pack Confidential and Summer and Smoke
Summer and Smoke
Summer and Smoke is a two-part, thirteen-scene play by Tennessee Williams, originally titled Chart of Anatomy when Williams began work on it in 1945. In 1964, Williams revised the play as The Eccentricities of a Nightingale...

, which both transferred to the West End
West End theatre
West End theatre is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London's 'Theatreland', the West End. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English speaking...

 and The Burial at Thebes
The Burial at Thebes
The Burial at Thebes is a play by Irish Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, based on the fifth century BC tragedy Antigone by Sophocles. It is also an opera by Dominique Le Gendre...

which was part of the Barbican BITE season of autumn 07 and toured the USA in 2008.

Nottingham Playhouse celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2008 along with Kenneth Alan Taylor's 25th Anniversary pantomime where he returned to the stage as Widow Twankey in Aladdin.

External links

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