Warehouse Theatre
The Warehouse Theatre is a professional producing theatre
Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance...

 with one hundred seats in the centre of the London Borough of Croydon
London Borough of Croydon
The London Borough of Croydon is a London borough in South London, England and is part of Outer London. It covers an area of and is the largest London borough by population. It is the southernmost borough of London. At its centre is the historic town of Croydon from which the borough takes its name...

, south 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...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 based in an oak-beamed former cement Victorian
Victorian architecture
The term Victorian architecture refers collectively to several architectural styles employed predominantly during the middle and late 19th century. The period that it indicates may slightly overlap the actual reign, 20 June 1837 – 22 January 1901, of Queen Victoria. This represents the British and...

A warehouse is a commercial building for storage of goods. Warehouses are used by manufacturers, importers, exporters, wholesalers, transport businesses, customs, etc. They are usually large plain buildings in industrial areas of cities and towns. They usually have loading docks to load and unload...

. It is known for its commitment to new writing, including its annual International Playwriting Festival
International Playwriting Festival
The International Playwriting Festival was founded in 1986 by Steve Gooch and Ted Craig and is hosted by the new playwriting theatre, Warehouse Theatre, South London. It is held in two parts: the first is a competition with entries accepted from all over the world, which are judged by a panel of...

, in partnership with the Extra Candoni Festival of Udine
Udine is a city and comune in northeastern Italy, in the middle of Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, between the Adriatic sea and the Alps , less than 40 km from the Slovenian border. Its population was 99,439 in 2009, and that of its urban area was 175,000.- History :Udine is the historical...

 in Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and Theatro Ena in Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

. Youth theatre is also important, with the resident Croydon Young Peoples' Theatre (CRYPT) and including an annual collaboration with the Croydon-based Brit School
BRIT School
The London School for Performing Arts & Technology is a British school located in Selhurst, Croydon, in London, England, with a mandate to provide education and vocational training for the performing arts, media, art and design and the technologies that make performance possible...

. Within the building there is also a popular CaféBar.


The Warehouse Theatre was founded by Sam Kelly, Richard Ireson and Adrian Shergold when lunchtime theatre was particularly popular, with the aim of presenting a varied season of plays with an emphasis on new work to the highest possible standards. The first production — Hell's Angels on Typewriters by Angela Wye — opened in May 1977, and the then 50 seat auditorium became an instant favourite with local audiences for lunchtime performances whilst sharing the building with a Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 night club.

In 1978, the Arts Council
Arts council
An arts council is a government or private, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the arts mainly by funding local artists, awarding prizes, and organizing events at home and abroad...

 recognised the work of the theatre by awarding a major grant and in 1979 the nightclub closed, evening performances were introduced and the seating capacity
Seating capacity
Seating capacity refers to the number of people who can be seated in a specific space, both in terms of the physical space available, and in terms of limitations set by law. Seating capacity can be used in the description of anything ranging from an automobile that seats two to a stadium that seats...

 was increased to 100. Respected touring companies began to visit the theatre between in-house productions. Cabaret evenings were introduced, with performers including Lenny Henry
Lenny Henry
Lenworth George "Lenny" Henry, is a British actor, writer, comedian and occasional television presenter.- Early life :...

, French & Saunders
French & Saunders
French and Saunders is a British sketch comedy television show written by and starring comic duo Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. It is also the name by which the performers are known on the occasions when they appear elsewhere as a double act....

, Rik Mayall
Rik Mayall
Richard Michael "Rik" Mayall is an English comedian, writer, and actor. He is known for his comedy partnership with Ade Edmondson, his over-the-top, energetic portrayal of characters, and as a pioneer of alternative comedy in the early 1980s...

, Ben Elton
Ben Elton
Benjamin Charles "Ben" Elton is an English comedian, author, playwright and director. He was a leading figure in the British alternative comedy movement of the 1980s, as a writer on such cult series as The Young Ones and Blackadder, as well as also a successful stand-up comedian on stage and TV....

, and Julian Clary
Julian Clary
Julian Peter McDonald Clary is an English comedian and novelist, known for his deliberately stereotypical camp style, with a heavy reliance on innuendo and double entendre.-Early life and education:...

. Gradually more plays were premiered, with many being specially commissioned by successful writers, such as Sue Townsend
Sue Townsend
-Adrian Mole series:* The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ , her best selling book, and the best-selling new British fiction book of the 1980s.* The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole * The True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole...

, who wrote Groping for Words and Womberang for the theatre.

After the withdrawal of an Arts Council grant in 1984, potential closure was averted when the London Borough of Croydon and the GLC
Greater London Council
The Greater London Council was the top-tier local government administrative body for Greater London from 1965 to 1986. It replaced the earlier London County Council which had covered a much smaller area...

 agreed to replace the grant. Following a brief closure for major refurbishment, including the building of the bar, the theatre re-opened in 1985 under the directorship of Ted Craig
Ted Craig
Ted Craig FRSA is an Australian-born theatre director who is best known as the artistic director of the Warehouse Theatre, South London, England.Craig was born and educated in Melbourne, Australia...

 with the premiere of David Allen
David Allen (playwright)
David Allen is an Australian playwright. He is notable for his play Cheapside, which has been shown at the Warehouse Theatre and the White Barn Theatre....

's Cheapside.

Now concentrating exclusively on new playwriting, initiatives such as the South London Playwriting Festival were launched, giving an invaluable platform to works by both new and established writers. Kevin Hood's compelling new play Beached won the first festival in 1986 and he later became Resident Playwright, writing both The Astronomer's Garden and Sugar Hill Blues for the theatre.

International Playwriting Festival

The South London Playwriting Festival quickly became the International Playwriting Festival
International Playwriting Festival
The International Playwriting Festival was founded in 1986 by Steve Gooch and Ted Craig and is hosted by the new playwriting theatre, Warehouse Theatre, South London. It is held in two parts: the first is a competition with entries accepted from all over the world, which are judged by a panel of...

, reflecting the number of entries from all over the globe. Finalists have included playwrights from the USA, Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles...

, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

, with the 1994 winner, Dino Mahoney, being half Irish, half Greek, living in Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

. Dino's selected play Yo Yo had its premiere here in April 1995. In 1996, the Warehouse Theatre inaugurated a partnership with the leading Italian playwriting festival, the Premio Candoni Arta Terme and in 1999 a partnership was also formed with Theatro Ena in Cyprus providing selected writers with a window for further productions in Europe. The new writers discovered by the festival have since gone from strength to strength and further productions, radio and screen contracts, and success with other work has followed, including James Martin Charlton
James Martin Charlton
James Martin Charlton is an English playwright, theatre director and filmmaker. He was born in Romford, Greater London, United Kingdom in 1966.-Career:...

, Sheila Dewey
Sheila Dewey
Sheila Dewey is a British playwright, writing for theatre since 1982. In 1991 she received the Thames Television Theatre Writers' Award, and in 1992 was awarded an Arts Council Bursary...

, Richard Vincent
Richard Vincent (playwright)
Richard Vincent is an English playwright, theatre director and screenwriter.-Life:Vincent trained as an actor at the Drama Centre, London.His first play, Off the Bone, was produced at the Courtyard Theatre in 1994....

, Mark Norfolk
Mark Norfolk
Mark Norfolk is a prolific author and independent filmmaker. He has made documentaries, short films and feature films and authored plays for stage and radio and well as publishing several books.-Early life and career:Birthdate unknown...

, Maggie Neville and Roumen Shomov.

The building

The Warehouse Theatre is a converted Victorian warehouse, built in 1882 for a sand, cement and lime merchant. In spite of refurbishments, it still has several original features. There are picture tiles from the 1880s, mostly on the cellar under the main staircase, and a "crab" winch and wall crane of unusual design in full working order on the side of the building. Early drawings show that the bar, opened in 1985, is actually sited in the old stable block, with the eating area above in the appropriately named "Hayloft" bar.

But the Victorian charm of the building does have its less engaging side. The removal of a false ceiling in 1981 uncovered the planked roof and vast beams and tresses of the original holes in the original roof to let in the original rain over audience and cast alike.

Space is another problem. The office looks like a cupboard crossed with a corridor and is actually another entrance to the auditorium. In fact, until 1985 it was the entrance and many bemused latecomers are still escorted up the backstairs and past the kitchen to avoid walking through the scenery. With so little room to manoeuvre, one (unnamed) actress was once forced to crawl along a wooden beam in the roof in order to reach her entrance after she had left by the wrong door the scene before!

But the problems have helped to encourage the ingenuity and imagination in staging and design for which the Warehouse Theatre is rightly acclaimed - and cheerfulness in adversity has seen staff and audiences alike through many a minor crisis.

Ruskin Square development

For some years a new theatre has been planned in partnership with Stanhope / Schroders as part of their Ruskin Square development. Designed by Foster + Partners around a park setting with the Warehouse Theatre occupying a £5 million, 200 seat custom designed building. Although a complete contrast to the existing Victorian warehouse, the new building has been designed to be as intimate as possible.

Croydon Arena scheme

Croydon Arena was a proposed arena part of the Croydon Gateway
Croydon Gateway
Ruskin Square is the name given to a project to redevelop a block of land between East Croydon railway station and the existing town centre of Croydon in South London. It is part of the major Croydon Vision 2020 regeneration scheme...

 re-generation scheme in the south 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...

 district of Croydon
Croydon is a town in South London, England, located within the London Borough of Croydon to which it gives its name. It is situated south of Charing Cross...

. The site is next to East Croydon station
East Croydon station
East Croydon station is a railway station and tram stop in Croydon, 10.35 miles south of London Bridge in Travelcard Zone 5. It is the largest and busiest station in Croydon and the busiest in London outside Travelcard Zone 1 in terms of the number of passengers entering and exiting...

 and has been in the ownership of the rival development, Ruskin Square.

The Arena scheme was backed by Croydon Council with developer partner Arrowcroft. The matter was the subject of a public inquiry
Public inquiry
A Tribunal of Inquiry is an official review of events or actions ordered by a government body in Common Law countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland or Canada. Such a public inquiry differs from a Royal Commission in that a public inquiry accepts evidence and conducts its hearings in a more...

that took place from September to November 2007.

The full decision rejecting the Planning Application and the Compulsory Purchase Order was issued on the 31 July 2008 and the 6 August 2008.

The future

The Warehouse Theatre Company will remain in the present building during the new development (delayed because of the recession) which will enable the move to its new premises with minimal disruption.

The Warehouse Theatre will be launching its largest fund-raising appeal in its 33 year history in the near future to help it launch itself into the new building. Fund-raising will be required for finishing touches to the new building, technical equipment, launch programme and a host of other vital expenditure to ensure the Warehouse Theatre is launched into its new future on a firm footing.

External links

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