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Theatre Royal Stratford East announces major new arts venue

Theatre Royal Stratford EastAnnounced today, that Theatre Royal Stratford East is embarking on an ambitious project to build a new theatre, The Red Crate, immediately opposite them in Theatre Square, Stratford. The new building will link with the adjacent empty catering unit, which Theatre Royal Stratford East intends to transform into a fresh café / bar offer for the area, as well as providing front of house facilities. The addition to the Cultural Quarter will enhance the area’s existing night time entertainment and play an important role in establishing Stratford as a vibrant cultural destination for the local community and visitors as part the ongoing regeneration of the area.

It will also enable the theatre to extend its commitment to the young people of East London. The relationship between Theatre Royal Stratford East and the National Theatre began earlier this year with free performances of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time for Newham students and residents, in association with the London Borough of Newham. The new arts venue will be a sister building to the National Theatre’s temporary theatre, designed by award-winning architects Haworth Tompkins. The theatre has launched its capital fundraising campaign of £4.5m today. A public consultation will take place this autumn.

Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, said: “I am delighted by this inspirational proposal from Theatre Royal Stratford East, which is set to augment Stratford’s existing cultural offer to make it a top London destination to be enjoyed by local people and visitors to the area. Newham welcomes the relationship between the National Theatre and TRSE, which will offer new opportunities for both organisations, the audiences, young people and artists they serve.

Nicholas Hytner, Director of the National Theatre, added: ‘We are delighted that the success of Haworth Tompkins’ superb temporary theatre for the National has created a template for a versatile, warm and enticing performance space that can be replicated at Stratford East; and we look forward to furthering our connection with Kerry Michael and his team’.

Theatre Royal Stratford East was one of the few arts organisations in the country to receive an uplift in funding from Arts Council England in July’s announcement, reaffirming their status as a National Portfolio Organisation.

Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said: ‘The Red Crate, which has been inspired by a growing relationship between Theatre Royal Stratford East and the National Theatre, will build on Stratford’s position as a creative hub in East London, ensuring local communities are able to access more great things on their doorstep. The new performance space will also enable Theatre Royal Stratford East to build on its important work with culturally diverse audiences, young people and artists. This really is an inspiring development.’

The borough of Newham is the largest regeneration area in Europe with change in the area continuing apace since the 2012 Olympic Games.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: “The Red Crate is a ground-breaking venture for Theatre Royal Stratford East, resulting from a new relationship between them and the National Theatre, which will add to the burgeoning cultural quarter that is developing in east London as a legacy of the 2012 Games. With our plans for Olympicopolis in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park it will be another reason to visit and help fulfil our commitment to achieving the economic, social and cultural potential of the area.”

Haworth Tompkins, winners of RIBA’s London Architect of the Year 2014, designed the National Theatre’s temporary theatre and have worked closely with Theatre Royal Stratford East to make their unique design transferable to Stratford.

Steve Tompkins said, “We are thrilled to be working in Stratford on this exciting project, having delivered The Red Crate’s older sibling at the National Theatre. It presents a great opportunity to build on the cultural strengths of the area, make enjoyable new public spaces and attract new audiences for the arts. Newham is in the vanguard of urban design in London and so its a great place and a great moment to be involved.

For Theatre Royal Stratford East, The Red Crate will be a profound game-changer. It will broaden the theatre’s offer for Newham residents and attract arts going audiences from across London, deepen their talent development, build a gateway of opportunity for young people and the community, and ensure a resilient future for this much-loved organisation.

Kerry Michael, Artistic Director at Theatre Royal Stratford East described his vision; “We are situated in the borough with the lowest arts engagement in England and yet we have achieved over 90% capacity at our Box Office this year. It is clear there is huge enthusiasm and demand for our new work, which speaks to our audiences. With The Red Crate we hope to feed this desire from our local community and arts goers from across the capital. Haworth Tompkins’ auditorium design creates an intimate and exciting connection between the performer and the audience in a very different way to our existing beautiful Victorian auditorium. The nature of the new performance space will also give us the opportunity to work with some of the best local, national and international artists, many of whom are underrepresented in the theatre sector and who like us, are inspired by the aspirations and concerns of our diverse, young and vibrant community.

Tuesday 23rd September 2014


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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