Architects: Haworth Tompkins
Opened in February 2000
The Jerwood Foundation's grant of £3 million to save London's Royal Court theatre is one of its largest capital projects to date. The refurbished Royal Court, with its two stages renamed the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs and the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, re-opened to great acclaim in February 2000. The architects for the rebuilding and the refurbishment were Haworth Tompkins, who have since also rebuilt the Young Vic including the Jerwood Pod. Prizes for the refurbished Royal Court included a RIBA Award.
The 380-seat Jerwood Theatre Downstairs has been subtly changed to achieve much better sightlines and greater theatrical flexibility, with seating renewed with arms that can be folded back and used as benches to increase audience density when needed. The 85-seat Jerwood Theatre Upstairs has been rebuilt with better headroom, far greater technical capacity, and a flexible and quickly demountable seating system which allows many unconventional configurations. The Royal Court's redesign, incorporating materials such as corten weathered steel, jarrah wood, polished concrete and dark leather, reflects the theatre's radical tradition.
The Royal Court first opened in 1888 and since 1956 has been home to the English Stage Company. In the 1950s its Artistic Director James Devine established its vision to discover 'hard-hitting uncompromising writers' and create 'a vital modern, theatre of experiment'. It has since become a leading force in world theatre, producing new plays of the highest quality, encouraging writers across society, and addressing the problems and possibilities of our time.
The Royal Court's Jerwood New Playwrights at the Royal Court scheme, having been developed by the Foundation, is now grant aided by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation.
Jerwood Theatres, Royal Court, London © Architects: Haworth Tompkins