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Southwark Playhouse confirms move to two permanent homes from next year

Artist's impression of the new Southwark Playhouse venue at Elephant and Castle Artist's impression of the new Southwark Playhouse venue at Elephant and Castle
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Southwark Playhouse has announced it will move to a new, permanent home in 2019, in addition to detailing further plans about a second space in London Bridge.

The theatre has consistently operated in temporary venues since it was founded in 1993 and has been actively searching for a permanent base for two years.

It has been situated near Elephant and Castle since 2012, when it was forced to leave its former premises in the arches of London Bridge station due to redevelopment works.

It will now move to a new flagship venue nearby in Elephant and Castle. This will be in addition to a previously announced satellite venue in the new London Bridge station.

Southwark Playhouse – Elephant will be situated five minutes from the theatre’s current premises, in a mixed-used development. It will include a 300-seat flexible theatre space dedicated to “high-profile plays and musicals”. There will also be a second studio space for youth and community work.

The fit-out is due to take place over the next year at a cost of £3 million, a third of which has already been raised.

Meanwhile, Southwark Playhouse – London Bridge will include two further spaces, of 200 and 150 seats each. These will be used for work by new and emerging artists and will also have a dedicated rehearsal space.

Both theatres are due to open in 2019.

The expansion means Southwark Playhouse will increase its total performance capacity from 350 across two spaces, to between 650 and 700 across three.

Artistic director Chris Smyrnios said the decision to have two spaces had come about as part of the “twists and turns” of finding a permanent home. However, he said the plans had now become “absolutely necessary” for the organisation.

“It means we can continue our good work but also significantly increase the opportunities we can offer to local Southwark residents and new and emerging theatre artists. There’s a lot to do but I genuinely can’t wait to welcome everyone into our new homes from – funding pending – next year,” he said.

The theatre’s current premises will be converted into flats in the coming years, with the organisation planning to move out at some point in 2019. It will continue operating until then.

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