6-7 Great Newport St
City of London
Tube Station: Leicester Square
One of the West Ends smallest theatres, the Arts Theatre is a two-tiered basement auditorium, tucked away on a side street behind Leicester Square. If you are looking for intimate, powerful theatre in a well-respected studio space combined with the power to draw stars that the West End has, the Arts Theatre could be just what you are looking for.
The Arts Theatre opened in 1927 as a private members club, so that it could avoid the censorship of the Lord Chamberlains Office, which presided over all public stage performances at the time (and well into the 1960s and 1970s). With the Hampstead Everyman, the Gate Theatre Studio and the Q Theatre all of which were involved with experimental works at the time, they formed the Other Theatre movement that was referred to in Norman Marshalls book of the same name in 1947.
In August 1955 the theatre hosted the English language premiere of Samuel Becketts Waiting For Godot, directed by Peter Hall (now Sir Peter Hall). Hall took over the running of the theatre until 1969. From 1967 to 1999 the theatre also housed the Unicorn Childrens Theatre, and adult performances included new work by Tom Stoppard among others.
Currently, the theatre shows a vibrant mix of new work, plays as well as musicals, as well as cabaret and comedy acts. Being a receiving house means that it has no in-house theatre companies, and brings in theatre companies from around the world to put its shows on. These carry on the traditions of experimentation and creativity within the setting of the West End.
Despite its small size and relative obscurity, the Arts Theatre is very easy to get to. The nearest tube stations are Leicester Square and Covent Garden, but you can walk from Charing Cross, Piccadilly Circus or Tottenham Court Road. At Leicester Square take the Cambridge Circus exit from the tube station. If you wish to cycle then there is a docking station for the Barclays Cycle Hire bikes on Little Newport Street, just around the corner from the Arts Theatre, on St Martins Lane, and on Moor Street.
The Arts Theatre has a bar as well as a tea room, so it can be a good place to meet friends, as well as to catch a show. At the Covent Garden Cocktail Club, which meets in the bar, you will be able to see fabulous displays of mixology. Their cocktails have received high praise from many.
Whilst much of the West End is producing identikit musicals based on films or the music of faded pop stars, the Arts Theatre remains a bastion of experimental theatre. Its 350 seats mean that it is not the most influential venue in the West End, but with its productions of Pinter, Beckett, and Stoppard, and its resolutely daring approach to new material it has punched well above its weight in the world of London theatre for well over 80 years. If you are looking for something a little different from your trip to London, the Arts Theatre might be just the place to find it.
|HOTEL / APARTMENT||POSTCODE||MILES||STAR||23 Sep||24 Sep||25 Sep||26 Sep||27 Sep||28 Sep||29 Sep||30 Sep|
|Leicester Square Station||1||Piccadilly - Northern||0.09 miles|
|Covent Garden Station||1||Piccadilly||0.26 miles|
|Charing Cross Station||1||Bakerloo - Northern||0.43 miles|
|Piccadilly Circus Station||1||Bakerloo - Piccadilly||0.50 miles|
|Tottenham Court Road Station||1||Central - Northern||0.54 miles|
|Charing Cross London Station||0.48 miles|
|London Waterloo International Station||1.32 miles|
|London Waterloo Station||1.43 miles|
|London Waterloo East Station||1.49 miles|
|London Blackfriars Station||1.69 miles|