A new theatre which can adapt its auditorium to suit each play is to open this autumn with a performance of Young Marx. The modular auditorium of London’s first large, commercial and custom-built theatre since 1973 will mean the audience gets even closer to the action.

According to its creators Sir Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr, formerly of the National Theatre, The Bridge Theatre will be an arena for “the shows that people make in the 21st century.” New theatre for Capital Among its other initial productions is Julius Caesar next January, starring David Calder as Caesar, Ben Whishaw as Brutus and David Morrissey as Mark Antony, which will feature a promenade where the audience can roam around the characters. The 900-seater Bridge Theatre, on the banks of the Thames near Tower Bridge, is due to open in October.

Julius Ceasar to be performed at the new Bridge Theatre

The Bridge Theatre auditorium.

And aside from promenade productions, it will be able to stage end-on performances with the audience on one side and thrust formats, which extend into the audience. Sir Nicholas told The Stage: “We want to make bold, popular theatre. “We’ve commissioned ambitious plays that reach out to embrace the audience, and we’ve built an environment for them that is exciting, welcoming and flexible – a theatre that can be changed to suit the show.”

New work will include: Nightfall by Barney Norris, directed by Laurie Sansom; a play by Lucinda Coxon, based on the novel Alys, Always and directed by Hytner; John Hodge’s Flatpack; The Black Cloud by Sam Holcroft, based on Fred Hoyle’s novel and a play by Nina Raine based on the life of JS Bach. Although primarily featuring new plays, there will be the “occasional classic” included say its founders and their hope is to see many productions transfer to the West End.

According to Skelly & Couch, a company which designed the building:

The Bridge Theatre will be central London’s first new major theatre in 20 years. The 900-seat auditorium will be the flagship home for the London Theatre Company, with Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr, who led 12 years of artistic and commercial success at the National Theatre, at its helm.

The planned venue, for which Skelly & Couch is undertaking full mechanical, electrical, environmental and acoustics design, overlooks the River Thames as part of Berkeley Homes’ One Tower Bridge development.

The auditorium of the theatre, which will open in summer 2017, is designed by Steve Tompkins and Roger Watts of RIBA Stirling Prize-winning Haworth Tompkins Architects, who were involved with another Skelly & Couch collaboration, the refurbishment of the Grade II*-Listed Chichester Festival Theatre.

The theatre features a state-of-the-art prefabricated modular auditorium that will bring flexibility and the latest in-stage technologies to the cutting-edge theatre, which will offer theatre-makers a platform to create adventurous new work. It is anticipated to be the flagship of a number of new theatres in London.

The Bridge Theatre will be run as a commercial enterprise with no subsidies or philanthropic grants. It will become the London Borough of Southwark’s second-largest theatre, after Shakespeare’s Globe, where Skelly & Couch is also presently working on a refurbishment and new-build project.

Tickets will be priced from £15 for under 26s to £65 with shows from Tuesday to Sunday and Monday nights dedicated to live recordings of podcasts, gigs and conversation events.

The Bridge Theatre rendering from Skelly & Couch.

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This post was written by Sally Guyoncourt.

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