Lord Lloyd Webber is predicting, with Cassandrian delight, a “bloodbath” in London’s West End in summer 2012 as Theatreland lies deserted while we, in droves, are seized by Olympic fervour. With eight months to go it remains to be seen whether his sepulchral pronouncements are proved right, but one theatre at least seems to have already fallen victim to the Olympics.
From 1989 the pocket-sized powerhouse above the pub on the forecourt of Greenwich station has produced quality productions which have ensured the Greenwich Playhouse a loyal following and critical acclaim. Home to the Galleon Theatre Company since 1995, Artistic Director Alice de Sousa issued a statement on Monday evening, confirming that landlord Beds & Bars were refusing to renew the lease on the Playhouse, preferring instead to “exploit commercial opportunities” arising from this summer’s Olympic Games.
an immeasurable contribution to our capital’s cultural infrastructure
As operator of backpackers hostel Belushi’s, it would appear that Beds & Bars believe that the space currently occupied by the theatre would be better used to attract tourists planning on staying in the area. For eleven years, Beds & Bars have no doubt benefitted from the substantial revenue of the audience attending productions at the Greenwich Playhouse and, in particular, the Galleon Theatre Company. The eviction of Galleon seems mercenary and focussed on short-term revenue, and will deprive London of one of its most popular venues. In her statement, de Souza said “The Greenwich Playhouse is one of London’s most established small scale theatres…over two decades (it has) made an immeasurable contribution to our capital’s cultural infrastructure.”
The Greenwich Playhouse will close on April 10, 2012. Galleon Theatre Company are in discussions with Greenwich Council to find an alternative home.
Many people have been in contact asking how they might help Greenwich Playhouse. Alice de Souza has suggested that emails may be sent to the two individuals with significant political power in the matter. They are Nick Raynsford – Greenwich MP who is a supporter of the venue and has seen many previous Galleon productions – email@example.com and the leader of Greenwich Council – Chris Roberts – firstname.lastname@example.org
Both Nick and Chris are supporters of the theatre and are genuinely working towards finding them a new home, however time is running out, and a ‘positive pressure’ campaign reminding Nick and Chris of the Greenwich Playhouse’s importance and Galleon’s contribution may encourage the council to swifter action. Alice de Souza has also asked that any emails sent to Nick or Chris are also cc’d to her at email@example.com