New Theatre - Southwark Playhouse Elephant has become the latest theatre to open in London. The 310-seat venue in Elephant and Castle, the sister venue to Southwark Playhouse Borough, is the fruition of an idea first conceived in 2006. Among its first shows are Bermondsey Revolution, which opens on Thursday, and The Walworth Farce on 17 February.
Artistic director Chris Smyrnios said: "It's a great feeling to come to the end of the journey and to be at the beginning of a new one. Because of the regeneration, we've always been renting places and never really had a place of our own. Finally, we're in a building which is where we can set our roots, it'll be our forever home and it'll be a great place to be able to serve the community but also put on world-class theatre by new and emerging theatre practitioners."
At Risk - The King's Theatre in Edinburgh has announced it has 30 days to secure funding or risk closing its doors. Inflation and changing trade agreements have been cited as the reasons for a funding gap of £8.9m for its redevelopment. It comes after Edinburgh City Council lost its bid to the UK government's Levelling Up fund. Capital Theatres, the charity which runs the King's Theatre, has already raised £26m for the project. It must find the remaining £8.9m in the next 30 days, "in time to sign over the building to the contractors, stay on track with the project and avoid spiralling costs".
Capital Theatres said if the money was not found, it could not continue with the redevelopment and would have to hand the keys back to the council, which owns the building. It said it was now working with the Scottish government, City of Edinburgh Council and the UK government to find the money for the 100-year-old theatre.
Strike Threat - West End theatre performers could walk out on strike if their pay demands are not met, the trade union Equity says. It has put in a 17% pay rise request to the Society of London Theatre. Equity, the union for the performing arts and entertainment industries, told the BBC that strikes were a possibility as "nothing is off the table". All theatre shows could be hit by any industrial action, which would take place around Easter if no agreement is reached.
The Society of London Theatre said: "As we enter this year's negotiations, we are keen to build on our already constructive relationship with Equity to achieve a sustainable outcome."
Extended Reality - Rose Bruford College has opened its ‘extended reality’ stage, which will help students learn about immersive technologies and is being billed as the first facility of its kind in a UK drama school. The XR Stage has a permanent home at the drama school’s Sidcup campus and has been funded using money from a £1.9m grant from the Office for Students.
It was officially opened last week at a launch event by acting principal Mary Oliver, who also revealed upgrades to lighting, audio and IT systems that were made possible by the grant. Oliver said: "This future-facing investment follows in the college’s long history of being the first in the field to develop innovative degree-level technical courses. We are the only drama school in the UK with this resource currently, and it demonstrates our understanding of how the theatre crafts are expanding into a wide range of media production sectors."
The stage will be used as a training resource for students on Rose Bruford’s existing technical and performance courses, as well as for research and development, and live and recorded events. The college is also launching a course in September called Design for Performance, which will make use of the resource and will see students explore and then specialise in design for set and costume, lighting, film, virtual production, gaming or virtual reality experiences.
The XR Stage uses supplier White Light’s SmartStage technology, which integrates film and broadcast technologies and can be reconfigured for future work.
(Jim Evans)
24 January 2023

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