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Nottingham Playhouse
Nottingham Playhouse & Sky Mirror at night
Wellington Circus
Country  United Kingdom
Designation Grade II* Listed Building
Architect Peter Moro
Capacity 770 (2 levels)
Type Proscenium
Opened 1963
Years active 36 years
Coordinates: 52°57′13″N 1°09′28″W / 52.9537°N 1.1577°W / 52.9537; -1.1577

The Nottingham Playhouse is a theatre in Nottingham, England. It was first established as a repertory theatre in the 1950s when it operated from a former cinema. Directors during this period included Val May and Frank Dunlop.

The building

The current Modern movement theatre was opened in 1963. The architect was Peter Moro who had worked on the interior design of the Royal Festival Hall in London. It was initially controversial as it faces the gothic revival Roman Catholic cathedral designed by Augustus Pugin.

The buildings received a Civic Trust Award in 1966. Despite the modern external appearance and the circular auditorium walls, the theatre has a conventional proscenium layout, seating an audience of 770.

During the 1980s, when the concrete interiors were out of fashion, the Playhouse suffered from insensitive "refurbishment" that sought to hide its character. Since 1996, it has been a Grade II* listed building and in 2004, the theatre was sympathetically restored and refurbished with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The sculpture Sky Mirror by Anish Kapoor was installed between the theatre and the adjacent green space of Wellington Circus in 2001. It is one of the main features of the 160 seat patio area of CAST Restaurant and in autumn 2007 won the Nottingham Pride of Place in a public vote to determine the City's favourite landmark.

Performance history

The new theatre's artistic direction was shared between Frank Dunlop and actor John Neville with Peter Ustinov as associate.

The first production in the new theatre was Shakespeare's Coriolanus in a production by Tyrone Guthrie. This included a young Ian McKellen as Tullus Aufidius opposite Neville in the title role.

Subsequent artistic directors were Stuart Burge, Richard Eyre, Geoffrey Reeves, Richard Digby Day, Kenneth Alan Taylor, Pip Broughton and Martin Duncan. The Playhouse is currently under the leadership of Stephanie Sirr, Chief Executive and Giles Croft Artistic Director.

The Playhouse has a strong tradition of new works for children, both in the form of original writing and more recently in the form of classic pantomimes conceived by former artistic director Kenneth Alan Taylor. Taylor has directed 25 consecutive pantomimes at the theatre as of 2008.

In common with most producing theatres, Nottingham Playhouse no longer generally has a repertory approach to programming although it continues to create up to 13 new productions per annum. Its recent plays include Old Big 'Ead in The Spirit of the Man, a homage to Nottingham legend Brian Clough, Rat Pack Confidential and Summer and Smoke, which both transferred to the West End and The Burial at Thebes which was part of the Barbican BITE season of autumn 07 and toured the USA in 2008.

Nottingham Playhouse celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2008 along with Kenneth Alan Taylor's 25th Anniversary pantomime where he returned to the stage as Widow Twankey in Aladdin.

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