Celebrating London theatres: the ‘O’s

Welcome to the newest post in the Celebrating London Theatres series. Today I’m looking at spaces beginning with ‘O’.

Old Red Lion

Above the pub of the same name in Islington the Old Red Lion Theatre opened in 1979. The current artistic director is Alexander Knott.

It is “one of the most acclaimed off-West End venues for ambitious, powerful theatre” and has had many shows transferring to the West End (notably The Play That Goes Wrong) and off- Broadway.

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Old Vic

The Old Vic is a 1,000 seat, not for profit producing theatre near Waterloo. It opened in 1818 as the Royal Coburg Theatre and had its most recent refurbishment last year. Owned by the Old Vic Theatre Trust, it was the home of the National Theatre from inception in 1963 until 1976.

The current artistic director of the Old Vic is Matthew Warchus. Although the Young Vic was initially established as an offshoot of the Old Vic, there is now no connection between the two theatres.

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The Omnibus just off Clapham Common is based in a former public library and was renovated in 2019 to provide three performance spaces (Theatre, Common Room, Studio) and a new cafe.

Opened in 2013, the current artistic director is Marie McCarthy. The theatre’s ethos is in providing a platform for new writing (it hosts a regular Engine Room for scratch performances) and for affordable tickets and theatre for all.

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Open Air (Barra Hall)

The Open Air Theatre in Barra Hall Park in Hayes is a purpose-built outdoor theatre with seating for 180 people. It was originally concrete but was rebuilt in steel in 2005. It is operated by Hillingdon Theatres and can be hired for events finishing half an hour before dusk.

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Open Air (Regent’s Park)

Opened in 1932, the Open Air Theatre deep in Regent’s Park has 1,200 audience capacity and a resident company, and is known for its summer season of 2-3 shows presented in repertory. Underneath the raked and uncovered auditorium is one of the longest theatre bars in London.

The theatre is run by artistic director Timothy Sheader and executive director William Village. It has become known in recent years for large-scale musical revivals.

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Orange Tree

The Orange Tree in Richmond was built specifically as a theatre in the round and was opened in 1971 (above the Orange Tree Pub). It moved to new premises opposite the pub in 1991, with the original theatre operating as a satellite venue called The Room until 1997.

It specialises in staging new plays and rediscovering classics, and its current artistic director is Paul Miller.

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OSO Arts Centre

Based in Barnes, on Barnes Green, the OSO Arts Centre was opened in 2002 in the old postal sorting office. It hosts productions by the Barnes Community Theatre and the Barnes Children’s Literature Festival.

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The Other Palace

Based on the site of the former Westminster Theatre in Victoria, The Other Palace opened in 2012 as the St James Theatre. It was renamed in 2017 following acquisition by the Really Useful Theatres Group.

With a 312 seater main space and 120 seater studio, The Other Palace has developed a reputation for staging new and revived musicals and small-scale concerts. Kiki Stevenson is the current Artistic Programme Coordinator.

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The Ovalhouse was previously situated in Kennington from the 1930s (named Oval House) until 2019, when its premises closed for redevelopment. A new theatre is currently being constructed in Brixton and will be known as Brixton House, due to open in 2021. There is still an active fundraising programme to support the new space.

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Come back tomorrow for a look at London venues beginning with ‘P’.