Almeida Theatre

Definition

Theater

  • A small venue in Islington, north London, that has established itself as one of the UK's most dynamic and innovative producing theaters. The building opened in 1837 as the Islington Literary and Scientific Institution, a forum for lectures and demonstrations that included the unwrapping of one of the first Egyptian mummies brought to Britain. It subsequently served as a music club and a Salvation Army hall before falling derelict. In 1980 it was reopened by the founder and first director of the Almeida Theatre Company, Pierre Audi.

    The Almeida's golden era began in 1990, when Jonathan Kent (1955 - ) and Ian McDiarmid (1944 - ) becameits joint artistic directors and instituted a policy of presenting British andforeign classics in sometimes startling new versions. The theater quickly becameone of the most talked about in London, not least because of the readiness ofinternational celebrities (Juliette Binoche, Kevin Spacey, Cate Blanchett) towork there for little more than kudos. Famous Almeida productions of this erainclude Euripides' Medea (1994) with Diana Rigg and Hamlet(1995) with Ralph Fiennes, both of which transferred to Broadway and won Tonyawards; a version of Chekhov's Ivanov (1997) travelled to Moscow.

    In 2000 the Almeida closed for major renovations and the company moved to a temporary home in a former bus garage near King's Cross Station. For the last production before the move, a spectacular version of The Tempest, the Almeida stage was completely flooded and a hole was made in the roof for the entrances of Ariel. In 2002 the theater reopened under a new artistic director, Michael Attenborough. Triumphant productions of Ibsen's The Lady from the Sea (2003), Albee's The Goat (2004), and Tom Kempinski's Duetfor One (2009) have followed.

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