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Finborough Theatre
118 Finborough Road
SW10 9ED
0870 4000 838
Nearest Tube/Train Station:
Earls Court tube
Finborough Theatre History

The Finborough Theatre was founded in October 1980, above The Finborough bar, previously the Finborough Arms Pub, built in 1868, and celebrated its Silver Jubilee in 2005.

The theatre was founded by June Abbott who in its first seasons produced work ranging from Shakespare to Vaclev Havel to Mrozek and new plays by Sheila Yeger, Roger Stennett and Jeremy Kingston's Oedipus at the Crossroads.

The theatre was then run by Mike McCormack under whom the theatre was completely reconstructed in 1983 and, in 1984, was the first London fringe theatre to be awarded a grant from the late GLC. Productions included Nica Burns in her own adaptation of H.E. Bates' Dulcina, directed by Colin Watkeys; Clive Barker's The History of the Devil; the world premiere of Clare Dowie in her own Adult Child/Dead Child (1988 Time Out Theatre Award); Gerard Murphy's British premiere of Don Nigro's Seascape with Sharks and Dancer; Last Judgement with Gordon Warnecke; Home Free, directed by Kathy Burke; Ken Campbell in Memories of Amnesia and The Furtive Nudist; Days of Cavafy with Mark Frankel; the sell-out Starving Artists of Honoluluıs Holding Back the Ocean; and Mark Rylance's production of The Changeling. From 1982 to 1988, Colin Watkeys also presented late-night comedy and cabaret on Fridays and Saturdays with performers such as Jeremy Hardy, Paul Merton and the first public appearance of 21 year old Rory Bremner.

'I cannot recommend strongly enough a visit to the Finborough' Michael Coveney, Financial Times

From 1991 to 1994, under Cathryn Horn and Mary Peate, the Finborough Theatre became well known for presenting new writing.

''Over the last three years, the Finborough has seriously rivalled the Royal Court, Hampstead and the Bush as a venue for new writing'' Michael Billlington, The Guardian 1994

''No independent outfit turned out more regularly interesting surprises than the Finborough'' Dominic Dromgoole in his book The Full Room

Productions included Naomi Wallace's first play The War Boys; Geraldine Sherman's When Its Over; Stephanie McKnight's Beat the Air, directed by Sarah Frankcom; Karen Hope's Foreign Lands, directed by Jessica Dromgoole; Tom Kempinski's When the Past is Still to Come; David Farr's Neville Southal'ls Washbag with Will Keen, Rachel Weisz and Nicola Walker which was later revised into the West End play, Elton John's Glasses; and three plays by Anthony Neilson – The Year of the Family with Rachel Weisz and Tim Barlow, Normal: the Dusseldorf Ripper and Penetrator which transferred from the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, and went on to play at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs.

In 1994, the Finborough Theatre was taken over by The Steam Industry, led by Artistic Director Phil Willmott. The Steam Industry presented many successful seasons of linked work including Dangerous States (1994) including I''ll Show You Mine – an evening of short plays by young authors including Mark Ravenhill and Phil Willmott; Illyria, a version of Twelfth Night and The Oedipus Table from Sophocles; Broadway Writing (1995) including Strike with music by Mark Knopfler (Time Out Critics' Choice); New Writing (1995) which included Watch Out for Mr Stork by Diane Samuels, Function of the Orgasm by Tom Smith and Mark Ravenhill's production of the Chinese Yuan plays, Tales of Love and Justice; States of the Nation (1996-97) featuring David Eldridge's A Week with Tony, Tony Marchant's The Fundraisers, starring Tom Watt and Chris Lee's The Optimist's Daughters; Discipline (1998) with Crime and Punishment, directed by Phil Willmott, which was shortlisted for the Empty Space Peter Brook Award; TheatreCanada (1999) including the UK premiere reading of David Young's Antarctica, later seen in the West End; London (2000) including Chris Lee's Pearson Award winning play On Line and Paranoid in the Sentimental City; and Faith and Science (2001) including John Mighton's Possible Worlds (one of London Theatre Reviews' Best Fringe Productions of 2001).

The Steam Industry's new writing development work led on to productions of Mark Ravenhill's Shopping and F***king (Out of Joint, Royal Court, West End and an international tour), Naomi Wallace's Slaughter City (Royal Shakespeare Company) and David Eldridge's Serving It Up (The Bush).

The Finborough Theatre was awarded a Guinness Theatre Ingenuity Award for two years running in 1996 and 1997. This enabled The Steam Industry to collaborate with the Royal National Theatre Studio on developing two new musicals, including one with Don Black, lyricist of Sunset Boulevard, Aspects of Love and Billy, and to host a season of new plays presented by The Red Room for three months in 1997 with productions of Judy Upton's The People on the River, Lisa Perrotti's Tucson, Robert Young's Surfing and Anthony Neilson's The Censor which transferred directly to the Royal Court and won the Writers Guild Award for Best Fringe Play and the Time Out Live Award for Best New Play on the Fringe. (''One of the best and most original things the Royal Court did at the New Ambassadors'' The Sunday Times).

''The Finborough has nevertheless played a vital partŠin the explosion of creativity in British theatre in the 1990s. It was here that Max Stafford-Clark first glimpsed the potential of Mark Ravenhill.'' Aleks Sierz, In-Yer-Face Theatre

''You never knew where you would next enjoy a new voice or a treasured evening next – it could be at the Finborough, the Bush, the Royal Court, the Royal Shakespeare Company'' Dominic Dromgoole, The Guardian

Other productions included The Steam Industry's production of Howard Goodall and Melvyn Bragg's musical The Hired Man; the first shows by The League of Gentlemen; the UK premiere of David Mamet's The Woods with Peter Polycarpou and Katie Hims' The Breakfast Soldiers (Time Out Critics' Choice),

Neil McPherson became Artistic Director in 1999. Productions since then have included Jonathan Moore's Treatment and Brad Fraser's Wolfboy in repertoire (Time Out Critics' Choice); Diary of a Madman with Crispin Bonham Carter; Waterloo Day with Robert Lang; the London New Play Festival with the sell-out The Davids and Doomsday Girl by Moira Buffini, directed by Lisa Forrell; Anthony Neilson's The Night Before Christmas (Time Out Critics' Choice); Phil Willmott's production of The Grapes of Wrath; Ferdinand Bruckner's Pains of Youth with Stephen Billington; Missing Stars with Melanie Clark Pullen; a three month season from Stephen Henry's Theatre 28 including the world premieres of James Martin Charlton's controversial ecstasy+GRACE and Chris Pickles' The Silent Treatment (Top 10 Plays of 2001 – Theatre Record) with Euan Morton who went straight on to create his Olivier Award nominated role in the musical Taboo; Liz Phelps' Modern Dance for Beginners (recently produced at the Soho Theatre); and the UK premiere of Lanford Wilson's Sympathetic Magic (Time Out Critics' Choice).

2002 saw Cornish Theatre Collective's sell-out adaptation of Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist (The Guardian Pick of the Week); Carolyn Scott-Jeffs' sell-out comedy Out in the Garden (which transferred to the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh) and Tarnished Angel (subsequently broadcast on BBC Radio 4); Chris Dunkley's Mirita (Time Out Critics' Choice); two plays from New York City – Call It Peace which went on to great success Off-Broadway and the huge critical success Syndrome; the musical Schwartz It All About; the hugely successful long-overdue London premiere of Larry Kramer's The Destiny of Me (Nicholas de Jongh's No 1 Critics Choice in The Evening Standard for three weeks running); and the first London revival of Louise Page's Falkland Sound to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Falklands War.

The Finborough Theatre reopened in April 2003 after a major six month refurbishment with a season of three British Premieres of North American Plays including the Governor General's Award winning The Monument by Colleen Wagner, and the sell out UK premiere of Tennessee Williams Something Cloudy, Something Clear, (Critics' Choice in both Time Out and The Financial Times), followed by a season of British work including I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady from Rwanda (Time Out Critics' Choice, published and broadcast on BBC World Service as Play of the Week), and The Women's War, a centenary celebration of the suffragette movement.

2004 opened with a season of four new plays including two commissioned works by our writers-in-residence including Laura Wade's Young Emma (Time Out Critics' Choice). Laura subsequently won the Pearson Award Bursary to continue as our writer-in-residence, while director Tamara Harvey is currently directing at Shakespeares Globe and in the West End. Other 2004 productions included the Vietnam drama How I Got That Story by Amlin Gray; the Victorian comedy Masks and Faces, revived for the first time in over 70 years; the world premieres of Amy Evans Achidi Js Final Hours, directed by playwright Che Walker; and three productions in a row which were named Time Out Critics' Choice: Jason Hall's Eyes Catch Fire, Lynn Seifert's Coyote Ugly and the first London revival for more than 40 years of Rolf Hochhuth's Soldiers (also The Times First Choice). Both Time Out Critics' Choice and the Evening Standard Critics Choice was awarded to the UK premiere of Frank McGuinness' Gates of Gold with William Gaunt and the late John Bennett in his last stage role.

2005 productions have included Time Out Critics' Choices for Dameon Garnettıs Break Away, Simon Vinnicombeıs Year 10, Joy Wilkinsonıs Fair, both parts of Keith Dewhurstıs Lark Rise to Candleford, performed in promenade and in repertoire and the Great War drama Red Night. Other productions have included Etta Jenks with Clarke Peters and Daniela Nardini; The Gigli Concert with Niall Buggy, Catherine Cusack and Paul McGann (which transferred to the Edinburgh Assembly Rooms); the UK premiere of Darius Milhaudıs opera Médée; Hortensia and the Museum of Dreams with Linda Bassett; James Grahamıs new play Albertıs Boy with Victor Spinetti; the first London revival of Brian Friel's The Freedom of the City and a unique revival of Arthur Conan Doyle's Waterloo with Tim Barlow as the last survivor of the Battle of Waterloo. All the new plays presented in 2005 have been published.

The Finborough Theatre won the Guinness Award for Theatrical Ingenuity in 1996 and 1997; the Pearson Award bursary for writers Chris Lee in 2000, Laura Wade (also for Best Play) in 2004 and James Graham in 2006; was shortlisted for the Empty Space Peter Brook Award in 2003 and 2004; and won the Empty Space Peter Brook Mark Marvin Award in 2004, and the Empty Space Peter Brook Awardıs prestigious Dan Crawford Pub Theatre Award in 2005. In 2004, the theatre was named by Variety as one of the top five fringe venues in London.


Finborough Theatre
Nearest Tube/Train Station:
Earls Court tube
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