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Southwark Playhouse to retain London Bridge HQ

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Southwark Playhouse has secured its place in the London Bridge station redevelopment when it is finished in 2018, allaying fears that the company would be homeless after the building project.

Network Rail has now committed to giving the venue a 1,000 square metre space within the development. This will be on a long-term lease, for which the theatre will pay a “reasonable rent”. The deal has been signed between the theatre and Network Rail as part of a section 106 agreement.

Chris Smyrnios, chief executive of Southwark Playhouse, said it is “massively important” for the future of the venue that its base is now secure.

He said: “It’s massively important because we are staying in the community that we have been in for the last 18 years, and we are still able to do the work we do and we know that we can do that beyond five years, which previously we haven’t.

“We have had to plan on the short-term rather than the long-term, and this means we can start to think about how we can create a space that will really work in the long term and really work for our audiences and for the community.”

However, Southwark Playhouse will have to move out of its current spot to make way for the building works. Its final show will be its Christmas production, which is due to finish its run on January 5, 2013.

In the five-year interim, the company will move to another venue in the borough of Southwark. Although it has not been confirmed yet, Smyrnios said he was looking at a warehouse space in the Elephant and Castle area.

He added that, after the final show under the London Bridge arches, he hoped the theatre would be dark for as little time as possible while it moved venues. He added that “we are going to do everything we can to bring our audiences with us”.

The Southwark Playhouse Theatre Company was founded in 1993 by Juliet Alderdice, Tom Wilson and Mehmet Ergen. In 2010, it estimated that its performances were attended by more than 30,000 people.

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