The ever-progressive Bush Theatre will be shutting up shop for redevelopment from next month — but the show will go on as a season of productions heads out into a range of pop-up spaces in the community around Shepherd’s Bush.
Taking the £4 million revamp as an opportunity to reconnect with the local area, four projects are already lined up in unusual off-site locations ranging from an old music venue to a nearby laundrette.
A series of plays developed after workshops with local traders and residents called This Place We Know will spread across a number of found spaces along the Uxbridge Road. And The Neighbourhood Project will head directly into local people’s houses.
The Royale by Marco Ramirez about heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson will return but in the atmospheric Tabernacle in Notting Hill, making a point of telling this key bit of black history in a building that has been a key location for black people in London. Also, Boys Will Be Boys, a new work by Melissa Bubnic about the uphill struggle women can face in the City, will be put on at Bush Hall in a coproduction with the equally-pioneering company Headlong.
This is an object lesson in how to use a seemingly difficult moment of rebuilding to the fullest, with artistic director Madani Younis saying his ambition is to use these projects to make the Bush “more reflective” of the part of London it is based in. As well as the local pop-ups, he has pledged to keep a large number of ticket prices at a very affordable £10.
The redevelopment by architect Haworth Tompkins will expand the main 144 seat auditorium by 20% while adding a new 70 seat studio space that will be "a year-round home for emerging artists." The front-of house area will be expanded with a more accessible entrance and better facilities backstage.