Nottingham Playhouse & Sky Mirror at night
City Centre, Nottingham
|Designation||Grade II* Listed Building|
|Capacity||770 Main House; 100 (Neville Studio)|
|Current use||Producing Theatre|
|Years active||70 years|
Nottingham Playhouse is a theatre in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England. It was first established as a repertory theatre in 1948 when it operated from a former cinema in Goldsmith Street. Directors during this period included Val May and Frank Dunlop.
The current Modern movement theatre was opened in 1963. The architect was Peter Moro who had worked on the interior design of the Royal Festival Hall in London. It was initially controversial as it faces the gothic revival Roman Catholic cathedral designed by Augustus Pugin.
The buildings received a Civic Trust Award in 1965. Despite the modern external appearance and the circular auditorium walls, the theatre has a conventional proscenium layout, seating an audience of 770.
During the 1980s, when the concrete interiors were out of fashion, the Playhouse suffered from insensitive "refurbishment" that sought to hide its character. Since 1996, it has been a Grade II* listed building and in 2004, the theatre was sympathetically restored and refurbished with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The sculpture Sky Mirror by Anish Kapoor was installed between the theatre and the adjacent green space of Wellington Circus in 2001 at a cost of £1.25m (£1.85 million in 2016),. It is one of the main features of the 160 seat patio area of Cast Restaurant and in autumn 2007 won the Nottingham Pride of Place in a public vote to determine the city's favourite landmark.
In 2014-15 Nottingham Playhouse underwent a complete environmental upgrade including insulation of the fly tower, secondary and double glazing and installing PV panels. The works were jointly funded by Arts Council England, Nottingham City Council, patron donations and philanthropist Sir Harry Djanogly. The works have been calculated to cut annual energy usage by over 35%.
Subsequent artistic directors were Stuart Burge, Richard Eyre, Geoffrey Reeves, Richard Digby Day, Kenneth Alan Taylor, Pip Broughton and Martin Duncan. The Playhouse is currently under the leadership of Stephanie Sirr, Chief Executive and Giles Croft, Artistic Director.
Nottingham Playhouse has a strong tradition of new works for children, both in the form of original writing and more recently in the form of classic pantomimes conceived by former artistic director Kenneth Alan Taylor. Taylor has directed 30 consecutive pantomimes at the theatre as of 2013.
In common with most producing theatres, Nottingham Playhouse no longer generally has a repertory approach to programming although it continues to create up to 13 new productions per annum. Its recent plays include Old Big 'Ead in the Spirit of the Man, a homage to Nottingham legend Brian Clough, Rat Pack Confidential and Summer and Smoke, which both transferred to the West End and The Burial at Thebes which was part of the Barbican BITE season of autumn 2007 and toured the USA in 2008. Its production of Oedipus created by Steven Berkoff toured to the Spoleto Festival and stage adaptation of On the Waterfront to the West End for an extended run.
In 2013 an adaptation of The Kite Runner by Matthew Spangler produced by Nottingham Playhouse became the theatre's best selling ever drama. Autumn 2014 saw a successful UK tour of the piece.
In 2013 Nottingham Playhouse celebrated 50 years since opening the Moro designed Playhouse. The 50th anniversary season included world premiere productions of 1984, Grandpa in my Pocket, I Was A Rat by Philip Pullman and Charlie Peace: His Amazing Life and Astounding Legend. A major new production of Richard III, Alan Ayckbourn's Joking Apart and a revival of The Ashes along with Kenneth Alan Taylor's 30th pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk completed the year.
In both 2014 and 2015 the Nottingham Playhouse and Headlong Theatre production of 1984 played at the Playhouse theatre in London's West End to positive reviews. In Autumn 2015 it tours to Australia and the USA.
2013 also saw the appointment of the Playhouse's Associate Director, Fiona Buffini and the awarding of £1m from Arts Council England to undertake upgrading of the theatre's energy efficiency. Fiona Buffini's Mass Bolero marked 2014 - a tribute to Nottingham born Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean's gold medal winning performance at the 1984 winter olympics in Sarajevo by the people of Nottingham. Over 800 Nottingham residents took part and the film has been viewed over 50,000 times on YouTube.
- A theatre for all seasons: Nottingham Playhouse : the first thirty years 1948-1978 John Bailey, Nottingham Playhouse. 1994
- Britain. Peter Murray, Stephen Trombley. Architecture Design and Technology Press, 1990
- Public Art Since 1950. Lynn F. Pearson. Osprey Publishing, 2006
- UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2015), "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
- Michael Coveney Obituary: John Neville, The Guardian, 21 November 2011