Theatre Delicatessen moves into disused south London library
A disused south London library is to be reborn as an performance venue and training centre for the arts, after being taken over by a pop-up theatre company.
Theatre Delicatessen has secured a two-year lease on the Old Library in Burgess Park from Southwark Council, and plans to open the new arts centre in September.
It will be a new London home for the company, which left its previous building in Farringdon earlier this year after a two-year residency.
As well as a performance space for professional and community groups, the Old Library building will house rehearsal studios that will be provided to emerging companies to develop their work, and a new cafe.
Theatre Delicatessen’s co-artistic director Roland Smith said the building could be a jumping-off point for outdoor productions in the park itself.
“Working in this beautiful, historic building will enable us to continue our work with emerging artists and theatremakers, as well as developing new productions and performances to be staged both in the building and Burgess Park as a whole,” he said.
“At the same time, we are looking forward to meeting the local community and hearing their ideas for how our programme should evolve.”
Theatre Delicatessen, which also has a venue in Sheffield, is known for taking over empty commercial properties and turning them into temporary performing arts venues and studios.
It will also use the new building to develop arts training programmes, including drama and improvisation classes, as well as circus skills training.
Councillor Johnson Situ welcomed the library’s new use, saying: “Investing in arts and culture is tougher than ever for local councils, but we are really pleased to be able to welcome Theatre Delicatessen over the next two years.”
“Their plans to turn it into a creative hub that the whole community can enjoy are really exciting and I’m looking forward to seeing local people get involved,” he added.
Theatre company Collectif and Then will be the first to perform at the new venue, staging its new work The Machine, which will be developed in the Old Library building.
The Machine will run at the building as part of the Barbican Centre’s 2016 season from September 27 to October 8.
Before that, an open day will be held at the Old Library on August 20 for local people to look around the new arts centre and have a say in its use.
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