It’s official. London is the theatre capitol of the world. A recent study shows that the city is home to over 240 theatrical venues, with the capacity to seat more than 110,000 audience members per night and attracting around 22 million attendees every year. This puts Britain’s cultural hub ahead of even New York City.
Whilst the glamorous West End houses a great number of beautiful historic stages there are plenty more options out there for fans of live performance. If you’re craving something a little different from the big names, elaborate musicals or overpriced opera then consider one of the many fringe theatres scattered across the city and beyond.
But what exactly is fringe theatre?
The term originates from the renowned arts festival in Edinburgh which takes place every August that is in itself an off-shoot from the city’s prestigious International Festival. It refers to theatre on the edge – performance that takes place outside of the more established and
traditional settings. What our American cousins would label as “Off-Off-Broadway”. Simply put, it’s drama on a budget. And it is where the best theatre truly thrives. Spaces of all shapes and sizes (but mostly small) have cropped up throughout the urban landscape to provide a home for emerging talent. From new playwrights to experimental companies and from immersive experiences to improvised comedy, the fringe provides a
playground from which artists can learn and develop throughout their careers. Some of the most exciting new work comes from these unusual venues, which breed creativity through their very limitations. Whether it’s a black box above a pub, a former office block or even a disused warehouse, the next big thing in theatre could be about to take place…
Gate Theatre – a 75 seat venue above the Prince Albert Pub, Notting Hill since 1979
Canal Café Theatre – in the leafy suburb of Warwick Avenue. it is the home of New Revue, the longest running topical sketch show in the world!
Rosemary Branch Theatre – award-winning former music hall that hosts regular comedy, improv and poetry nights, interactive events and visiting theatre companies
Ovalhouse – a longstanding hotbed for young local talent from Kennington to Brixton
Yard Theatre – a converted warehouse in Hackney, the place for developing new writers!