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Through The Stage Door: Raising the Curtain on London’s Famous Theatres

Talks/Lectures

Event Description

Is there anything more exciting than the smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd? Since the first playhouse opened in 1576, the theatres of London have ruled the theatrical world. This series of talks from Pete Allen will take you through the stage doors of some of the most famous Theatres in London including The Palladium, The National Theatre, The Old Vic and the greatest theatre in the world, The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

1) Enter Stage Right: A Dramatic History of London's Theatres

Whose play was staged in the West End before he took up post at The Vatican? Which theatre keeps two seats free each performance for any ghostly members of the audience? Where did John Gielgud act as fire-warden during the Blitz and what happened to Henry Holland’s Fireproof Theatre? The answers to these questions, along with other extraordinary tales of escapades on-stage, back-stage and front of house, will be discussed as part of this fascinating insight into the 450 history of the theatre’s of London.

2) The Little Theatre in The Hay: A History of The Theatre Royal, Haymarket

This Talk explores the history of the small theatre that opened on a rough London lane rife with villains, pickpockets and crooks, and grew to rival the other great Theatre Royal and where, while ‘Waiting for Godot’, Patrick Stewart forgot his lines due to a ghostly apparition.

3) The London Palladium

The Palladium is one of the most famous theatre’s in the World, with a stage as comfortable with the antics of pantomime as it is with Hollywood legends. And where, following a performance by four young men from Liverpool in 1963, one national paper coined a very familiar term to describe the increasingly hysterical interest in the band.

4) The Old Vic

Opened in 1818, The Old Vic would eventually become home to Laurence Olivier’s National Theatre where it remained until it moved to its new home on The South Bank. But for over 200 years some of the greatest and in some cases, most controversial actors, have trodden the boards of what was known as ‘Queen Victoria's Own Theayter’.

5) The Royal National Theatre

Described as having ‘that inevitable and finished look that great work does’ and ‘a clever way of building a nuclear power station in the middle of London without anyone objecting’, The Royal National Theatre has never shied away from controversy both on and off stage. But it is also home to the greatest revival of the greatest musical ever written. Fact!

6) Drury Lane

The first National Theatre, the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane has provided entertainment for every monarch since the Charles II. This talk takes a personal journey through the history of one of the most famous theatres in the world with tales of being the body double for the man who wrote ‘My Fair Lady’ and almost being shot by the Queen Mother’s security detail…all because of Ken Dodd.

7) Exit Stage Left: Taking A Bow

A look back at the theatre’s discussed in these Talks, with some traditional audience participation!

  • Duration: 1 hr x 7
  • Online Zoom event: Join from your computer, phone or tablet (a recording will be available)
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Meet the Host, Pete

Pete is the Director of The RC Sherriff Trust, a charity set up through the Will of the playwright and author RC Sherriff. Prior to this he was The Arts Development Officer for Elmbridge Borough Council where he was responsible for The Royston Pike Lecture Series. Previous to his work with Elmbridge Borough Council, Pete was co-founder and artistic director of WhirlygigArts which ran CRYPT (Cranleigh Young People’s Theatre), CMYT (Chequer Mead Youth Theatre) and The Big Picture Young People’s Film Workshop. He co-founded Storm the Stage Young People’s Theatre for Mole Valley District Council and was the Director of The Together in Waddon Community Project. He has also worked extensively as a professional theatre director and film-maker.

Preparing for the Event

For the best experience, you will need to have Zoom downloaded onto your computer. Please ensure you're connected to broadband/wifi rather than using your mobile phone connection (3G/4G).

We also recommend that pets are either calmly sitting on your lap or in another room, and any refreshments you may require are within your reach!