Donmar Warehouse

Definition

Theater

  • An intimate theater in the Covent Garden district of London, noted since 1992 for its innovative productions of both new plays and classics. The late Victorian building began life as the hop warehouse for a local brewery and subsequently became a ripening depot for bananas. In 1961 the impresario Donald Albery converted it into a rehearsal studio for the dancer Margot Fonteyn, whom he managed - thus giving the Donmar its current name. As the Warehouse, it served as a London studio theater for the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1977 until its move to the Barbican in 1982. From the mid 1980s it presented touring productions by some of the country's leading fringe companies, as well as a range of musical entertainments. After a short period of closure, the Donmar entered a new era under the dynamic leadership of Sam Mendes, who became its director in 1992. With brilliantly innovative productions ranging from Sondheim's Assassins (1992) to Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie (1995) and David Hare's The blue Room (1998), the Donmar established itself as one of the most exciting venues in London. Mendes directed award-winning productions of Twelfth Night and Uncle Vanya (both 2001) before handing over to Michael Grandage (1962 - )in 2002. Under Grandage's leadership the Donmar initiated (from 2004) a national touringprogramme, taking its version of Pirandello's Seven Characters in Search of an Author to several provincial centres. Another landmark occurred in 2005, when the company staged a much praised revival of Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly Theatre - the first Donmar production to go directly into the West End without first appearing at the Warehouse. In September 2008 Grandage launched Donmar West End, a year-longseason of plays at Wyndhams's Theatre, with an acclaimed production ofChekhov's Ivanov starring Kenneth Branagh. The West End season continued with productions of Twelfth Night starring Derek Jacobi andHamlet with Jude Law (both 2009).
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