Bush test-drives new home

Published March 23, 2011

The Bush theatre plans to ease the transition from its existing venue to its new home in Shepherd’s Bush Old Library with two productions based around the contrasting spaces.

In June, the company will test drive its new home with Where’s My Seat?, an evening of three short plays which use the performance space in different ways. Playwrights including Tom Wells and Deirdre Kinahan will create the plays based around a set of nine props chosen by the National Theatre and some challenging stage directions.

Bush theatre Artistic Director Josie Rourke has drafted in the considerable talents of playwright Alan Ayckbourn and Donmar Warehouse Artistic Director Michael Grandage to devise the stage directions, while Tamara Harvey will direct. Following the performance, the audience itself will be asked to give feedback on the performances and the facilities of the new venue.

Before the theatre moves to the Old Library permanently in October, the company will bid farewell to its current home above an O’Neill’s pub with interactive show This Is Where We Got To When You Came In which runs from 15 to 30 September. Devised by Non Zero One, the show will give theatregoers the chance to journey through the building that has seen four decades of performance, before it closes its doors for the last time.

Rourke, who leaves the Bush to replace Grandage at the Donmar at the end of this year, will also oversee the Bush theatre’s return to the Latitude festival this July, where it will present Anthony Weigh’s The Flooded Grave, a chilling graveside tale which previously played as part of the Bush’s Broken Space season.

The new activity adds to a busy year for the Bush, which previously announced a collaboration with Westminster Abbey to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

A fundraising reading of Simon Stephens’s Sea Wall on 29 March completes the Bush theatre’s activity prior to opening the first season in its new home in October.

The move to the Old Library was agreed in November 2010 after 18 months of negotiation with Hammersmith and Fulham council. The new space will provide a permanent and stable home for the theatre, which has battled power cuts and leaks in its current facility.

Rourke commented: “My final nine months at the Bush will see the company open its new home ready for the theatre’s 40th anniversary in 2012. This will also mark five years in which I have led a resilient and inspiring team, who faced down adversity to present the work of some exceptional playwrights and build and serve our audiences.”

CB