Never mind the West End – H&F is the new theatreland!
Hammersmith & Fulham is one of the best places in London to enjoy the theatre outside of the West End.
The borough is currently home to six esteemed theatres including Lyric Hammersmith, Bush Theatre, Barons Court Theatre, The Polish Theatre, Riverside Studios, and the Finborough Theatre nearby, as well as a world class performing arts academy, London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art (LAMDA).
With another major theatre being built in Olympia, it’s safe to say the borough’s theatre and performing arts is thriving and growing. Here is what’s on offer in H&F’s theatreland:
For more than 125 years, the Lyric Hammersmith has presented shows from the heart of Hammersmith. People who live or work in H&F can sign up for the Free First Night giveaway to apply for two free tickets for any main house Lyric production on the first night.
In 2016, the Lyric Square theatre underwent a full £20million expansion and renovation, with H&F Council partly funding the works.
The redevelopment was the Lyric’s first major facelift in 35 years. It included a new cafe and bar, toilets and a two-storey extension which will be named the Reuben Foundation Wing in recognition of a generous grant from the Reuben brothers’ charitable foundation.
If you are interested in the Lyric’s current show Scandaltown, read our recent review here.
This year, the Bush Theatre celebrates 50 years of presenting new creative voices. The ethos of new writers and writing has remained throughout the theatre’s history.
The theatre offers discounts to locals through the Bush Local scheme – find out more and how to sign up on their website.
In 2011, the theatre moved to the former Hammersmith & Fulham Council library building in Uxbridge Road and opened a play library. “We have loads of plays that anyone can come into our cafe and read, so there’s an element of its life as a library that still remains today,” said Siobhan Sharp from Bush Theatre.
The Bush Theatre is opening its next main stage production, House of Ife, on 29 April in the Holloway Theatre.
Barons Court Theatre
Barons Court Theatre is a unique space located under the Curtains Up pub. The 52-seat theatre supports local artists by providing a platform for theatre makers in West Kensington.
Leo Bacica, the cosy theatre’s executive director, said: “We want to be a space for the local community and a platform for emerging artists.”
The theatre is now offering free tickets to anyone with a Ukrainian passport for their new production Peace Readings. Featuring work from Ukrainian playwrights, it runs from 26 to 30 April to fundraise for Red Cross Ukraine and Medicine for Ukraine.
The Polish Theatre
The Polish Centre (POSK) – the largest Polish centre outside of Poland – houses the Polish Theatre.
POSK’s theatre was opened in 1982 in their King Street, Hammersmith, home. POSK hosts amazing community events in their library, jazz cafe, art gallery, cinema, and restaurants.
The social and cultural centre is open to both Poles and non-Poles. POSK supports the Polish community’s sense of national identity and welcomes non-Poles to experience Polish culture.
The theatre will hold a Spring Exhibition on 1 May. Find out more about the Polish Centre and Theatre here.
Many big-name actors have performed at Riverside Studios over the years – including Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Vanessa Redgrave, and more recently Elizabeth McGovern.
Along with its renowned theatre, Riverside Studios also offers films in the cinema, exhibitions, workshops, classes, and an art gallery. You can enjoy a stunning view of the iconic Hammersmith Bridge on the terrace with some food or drinks from the bar and kitchen or the bakery.
The theatre will open Operation Mincemeat on 30 April. Have a look at what else is coming up here.
The Finborough Theatre was founded in 1980 and is located above the Finborough Arms pub, just a five-minute walk from West Brompton Station or Earl’s Court Station.
The theatre has premiered plays that have transferred to the West End and off-Broadway theatres. Both new writing and rediscovered historical works from the 19th and 20th centuries attract a broad spectrum of audiences.
The artistic director at the Finborough Theatre, Neil McPherson, even created a website explaining some history of the local area.
The theatre is currently playing The Straw Chair until 14 May.
Training future creatives
The borough’s diverse, abundant theatre culture also includes the world-renowned LAMDA.
LAMDA trains the next generation of creatives and supports alumni in establishing their careers.
The MishMash festival, held from Friday 29 April to Sunday 1 May, will showcase LAMDA graduates in the two theatres and other studio spaces. Tickets are only £5 per performance slot – book here.
The future of H&F theatre
The redevelopment of the art deco Olympia exhibition centre is set to include a new 1,575-seat performing arts and theatre space run by Trafalgar Entertainment.
Set to open in 2025, the new theatre will be the largest permanent theatre built in London since the National Theatre in 1976. The theatre will have discounted tickets for H&F residents. The new creative space will also include a 4,400-capacity live music venue.
The development has already and will continue to create new jobs for residents. “We advertise job opportunities first in the borough to try to attract locals to help us build the new development. Once we’re open, we and our partners and tenants will also be seeking to employ local people,” said Dominic Holmes, the Development Director.
Out and about in H&F
H&F is quickly becoming the go-to spot for entertainment the whole family can enjoy.
As well as theatres, the borough also has comedy venues, cinemas, museums and galleries and music venues.
We’re determined to make H&F the best borough to live, work or socialise in London.
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