Fringe Benefits: Orange Tree Theatre

By Londonist Last edited 78 months ago
Fringe Benefits: Orange Tree Theatre

Continuing our tour of London's smaller theatres.

Richmond is known for many things: its history, heritage, impressive buildings, massive park and, on summer days, the area that a few years ago was labeled "the happiest place to live" is usually filled with people basking on the banks of the Thames clutching ice creams.

However, just a few yards from the train station is an unsung wonder of Richmond, and it’s the Orange Tree Theatre.

Taking its name from the pub on the other side of the road (The Orange Tree), where the very first production was staged in an upstairs room back in 1971, the theatre moved into its current building in 1991. The 172-seat auditorium has the accolade of being London’s only permanent in-the-round theatre space. The seating is arranged on two levels, with benches on the ground, and an upper level with individual seats that allow the audience to view the performers from above.

Specialising in new, neglected and re-discovered work, the Orange Tree Theatre also runs a very well regarded Trainee Director scheme. Also, each year, an estimated 20,000 young people get the chance to participate in high quality live theatre through the theatre’s schools work, with an emphasis on making the plays of Shakespeare more accessible and enjoyable for youngsters.

Head honcho Sam Walters is officially the longest serving Artistic Director in the country; he directed the very first lunchtime show 41 years ago.

Their next offering is a play called Yours for the Asking, written by Spain’s leading female playwright Ana Diosdado. It runs from the 5 September to 6 October 2012.

Orange Tree Theatre, 1 Clarence Street, Richmond, TW9 2SA. Box Office: 020 8940 3633

By Jonnie Fielding

Previously in this series

View Small Theatres in a larger map

Last Updated 16 August 2012