Artistic director Madani Younis has announced that the Bush Theatre will undergo a major redevelopment of its building from March.
The developmental work will see the creation of a new second space as well as improved backstage facilities and a new front-of-house area with the aim of making the whole building fully accessible and more sustainable. At a press event this morning, Younis stated his aim of creating a theatre that truly reflects the community in which it sits.
During the building works, the Bush Theatre’s programme will move out into the local community, embracing the buildings and people of West London. Shows will include: the European premiere of Boys Will Be Boys, about representations of women in the male-dominated world of the city and the first co-production between the Bush Theatre and Headlong; This Place We Know, a series of plays performed along the iconic and chaotic Uxbridge Road featuring new and established talent from the Bush Theatre’s history; The Neighbourhood Project, a community project in collaboration with Look Left Look Right and featuring residents of Shepherd’s Bush; and a revival of The Royale, the critically and publically acclaimed play based on the story of the first African-American heavyweight champion of the world. Booking for Boys Will Be Boys and The Royale opens today.
The redevelopment and off-site programme will cost £4 million, of which 90% has been raised already. Supporters of the project include Arts Council England and the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham as well as generous trusts and foundations, local businesses and individual donors. The Bush Theatre continues to fundraise for the remaining 10% to deliver the project successfully and cement the theatre as a world-class venue in the heart of Shepherd's Bush.
The redevelopment will unlock the potential of the Old Library: increasing the capacity of the theatre and creating a new studio theatre space. It will also provide much better facilities for audiences and artist, with nearly 50% more space in the bars and café areas, and a revamp of the backstage areas. Across three spaces – the auditorium, attic and the studio theatre - the Bush Theatre hopes to welcome around 15,000 more people per year to the venue.
Madani Younis says: "Whilst we are incredibly proud to be redeveloping our theatre for the next generation, a theatre should not be defined by its walls - which is why we want to go beyond them. We have the privilege of being at the heart of one of the most diverse places in the country, and at a cultural crossroads of everything that it is to live in London today. We want to create a building that embraces this, and work that celebrates this.
"It’s my hope that 2016 is not just remembered as the year that the Old Library ‘had some building work done’. I want this to be remembered as the year where Uxbridge Road became our stage, where we met new audiences, and where we discovered the voices whose work will form the bedrock of British Theatre for years to come. All too often, theatre in this country doesn't reflect the culture of this country. By the end of this year, I hope that we can say with pride that this theatre truly represents the culture of the Uxbridge Road."