Playbox Theatre Company

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Not to be confused with Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne, known in the 1980s as the Playbox Theatre Company.

Playbox Theatre Company are a troupe of actors based in Warwickshire, England, the vast majority of whom are young people[1][unreliable source?][2] aged 5–25.[citation needed] They were founded in 1986.[1] More than 1,500 actors have been members. Playbox offers workshops in drama, circus, musical theatre, dance and lighting/technical skills.


The company was founded by Mary King, the current director of Playbox. The company began life in a hotel room in 1986. That year they invited English theatre director Michael Bogdanov to be their patron and he accepted. By 1988 the company were performing in two theatres in Warwick and Kenilworth and a year later they added Balsall Common to their schedule. In 1989 Stewart McGill, husband of Mary King, joined Playbox as a director. In 1991 and 1992, Stratford upon Avon, Rugby, and Leamington Spa added to the list. In 1993 the company produced its first work for national television. In 1994 Playbox reached out further to Coventry and have since moved into buildings in Bristol and York.

In 1999, Playbox's own theatre, The Dream Factory, opened in Warwick following a £2.7 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The theatre has a varying capacity as it is essentially a black box theatre but for safety the maximum is 250. There are 184 seats in the main auditorium, although these are flexible and can be altered for performances on a thrust stage, or in the round. It is available for hire and has a cafe serving meals and snacks.

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Playbox staged Nicholas Wright's His Dark Materials, being the first company after the Royal National Theatre[clarification needed] to do so.[3]

On tour[edit]

The company has performed throughout the country and further afield. In 1989 they played at the regionally well known Warwick Arts Centre and the world famous Edinburgh Festival. After Kraków City Council invited them to their city the company visited them. A year later a tour of the United States was staged. Further tours have been taken to these locations, as well as one to Germany, in the years since. Playbox has also taken Treasure Island to Cannizaro Park festival, playing on the same stage as Amy Winehouse. Playbox also added Tokyo to their resume in 2007. They visit Santa Monica every two years, in 2008 taking a tour of 'Monkey'. In the summer of 2010, Playbox will return to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where a group of 14 young actors will perform The Fallen, a new work exploring the effect of war on those left behind.


David Almond
Michael Bogdanov
Sir Ben Kingsley
Adrian Noble
Harriet Walter
Sophie Turner

Notable shows[edit]

His Dark Materials - Playbox were the first company, after the National, to stage Pullman's epic. It starred Olivia Meguer, Calum Finlay, Ed Miller and Theodore Lamb.

Notable alumni and members[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Young acting talent to get a boost at 'Meet the Media'". Midlands Business News. MBN Online. 29 July 2009. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  2. ^ "About Us". Playbox Theatre Company. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  3. ^ "Thinking big pays off for Playbox". Birmingham Post. 5 April 2006. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 

External links[edit]