Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Royal Court Theatre Tour - June 2014

I had an opportunity to have a tour of the Royal Court Theatre in London at the end of June.  I've been once to the theatre to see Simon Stephen's Birdland the previous month and I was very curious to learn more about Royal Court Theatre.  The theatre is reputed to produce and host groundbreaking and unconventional works and also support up and coming playwrights who are looking for their break.

The breaking news we had received was that the tour will be tweeted live for the first time where many followers on Twitter will have an opportunity of a virtual tour.  Royal Court Theatre has premiered productions in the past which didn't meet the then strict censorship of the past however the company had found a way to host these productions where open mindness ensured of fair reviews.  Such productions are well known and popular today.  Take for example Look Back in Anger and The Rocky Horror Show.

Firsty, we all met in the Royal Court Bar/Lounge area where we waited for Rachel and Anna, our tour guides, to take us round.  We began the tour with a talk about the theatre's past and present in the area which the site was the former public ladies toilets on Sloane Square.  This is why the area is called the Ladies Room.  The Royal Court Theatre was designed by Walter Emden and Bertie Crewe who were inspired with the French Renaissance era with its use of red bricks.  It was built in 1888.

We admired the original front facade sign in the bar before we moved onto to the bookshop which sells reasonably priced playtexts.  When I saw Birdland at the end of May, I bought a combined programme/playtext for only 3.00 gbp.  It's certainly a good place to buy playtexts, scripts and so forth.  We continue on to the foyer/box office area where we saw the theatre's only original window (the others have been enlarged to accommodate the natural light and consolidate the theatre's unique eclectic interior).

I glanced at the Look Back in Anger poster, a significant play which seemingly has revolutionised the theatre's approach producing wonderful, weird and anything goes works.  The theatre's interior reminded me how the Royal Court Theatre led the way to promote risky, contemporary and uncoventional productions.  We ascended to the Jerwood Theatre upstairs via its narrow stairs and offices where we noted a door, the original one to the main theatre's dress circle!

What I loved about the tour is we were pointed out to the little things which meant a lot to theatre.  The guides were keen for us to get much out the tour as much as what the theatre has to offer us.  We then paid a visit to the Upstairs Theatre, which was originally a bar/function area which was separate to the theatre and under a new management.  This was the place where productions considered 'controversial' according to the 'censor experts' were performed there.  

The Royal Court Theatre exercises equality and this is reflected everywhere in the theatre where everyone including actors are treated the same.  After learning some dressing room 'secrets' and listening the wardrobe department we began our descent to the depths below the stage.  We had a look round including the fly floor and the lighting storage including its lighting gels!  We got to stand on the main stage where we admited the theatre's intimacy and the feel important feeling as we looked out to the audience.


Eventually the tour concluded with one group feeling informed, insighted and enlightened!  We were told about the theatre's exciting new season and since then I've booked to see Liberian Girl in the Upstairs theatre.  A big thanks to Rachel and Anna!  A tour worth considering doing and a tour can be booked here!

More about the Royal Court Theatre by clicking on the link!

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