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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Open Air Theatre
The stage of the Open Air Theatre in June 2005, for a production of Cymbeline
Owned by New Shakespeare Company
Capacity 1,200 seats
Type Open air theatre, with resident company
Opened 1932
Production Summer repertory
Coordinates: 51°31′43″N 0°09′18″W / 51.528611°N 0.155°W / 51.528611; -0.155

The Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park in the City of Westminster, London, is a permanent venue with a three to four month summer season. It was founded in 1932 by Sydney Carroll and Robert Atkins.[1]

The theatre is located on the inner-circle of Regent's Park and consequently is surrounded by park. The theatre claims to have one of the longest bars in any theatre in London — stretching the entire length of the seating. The bar serves full meals from an hour and a half before performances begin as well as during the interval. A barbecue is also provided as well as a picnic lawn with tables for the audience to bring their own food.

The theatre houses an extensive backstage area complete with green room for the company and technical team, a workshop and paintshop for the creation and maintenance of stage sets and numerous offices for stage management, sound, LX and other crew.

Being open air, performances are dependent on the not-so dependable British weather. In the case of wet weather, the Met Office is called to determine the immediate forecast. Shows cannot be held for longer than 45 minutes, especially in the case of matinees as the delayed finish will dramatically interfere with the technical preparations for the evening show.

Recent Performances

The 2007 summer season included productions of Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Lady Be Good, Fantastic Mr Fox and The Boy Friend.

2007 saw the 25th and final year of artistic director, Ian Talbot. The choice to perform Lady Be Good was in reflection of his final year, being the first musical he directed at the park.

Timothy Sheader became Artistic Director of the theatre in November 2007. His first season, produced in 2008, consisted of productions of Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, Lerner and Loewe's Gigi and an especially adapted production of A Midsummer Night's Dream for family audiences.

2009 saw Timothy Sheader's second season as Artistic Director of the theatre. Productions included Much Ado About Nothing, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Tempest (adapted for family audiences) and Hello, Dolly!, which won the Ned Sherrin Award for Best Musical at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards in November 2009.

A new season has just been announced at the Open Air Theatre, to be produced in 2010, again under the Artistic Directorship of Timothy Sheader. The season will consist of The Crucible, The Comedy of Errors, Macbeth (adapted for audiences aged six and over) and the Stephen Sondheim musical Into The Woods.


  • Guide to British Theatres 1750–1950, John Earl and Michael Sell, pp. 129–130 (Theatres Trust, 2000). ISBN 0-7136-5688-3.

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