The Arts Theatre continue to produce short runs of excellent plays, operating as the West End’s smallest commercial receiving house, seating a maximum of 350 attendees in a two-tier basement auditorium.
Situated on Great Newport Street in the heart of Leicester Square, The Arts Theatre originally opened in April 1927 as an independent, members-only club, performing unlicensed plays and avoiding censorship. Prioritising artistic experimentation over commercial appeal, the Arts Theatre aimed to present a diverse range of new productions and continues to showcase a broad range of shows to this date.
The early years of the theatre saw it undergo troublesome financial times as the small and unlicensed plays were failing to bring in enough money to cover its costs. This changed, however, in 1946 when Alec Clunes and Peter Elstob were able to raise enough capital to put the theatre in a firm place financially
While the theatre continues to host smaller-scale productions, it has also been the venue for the works of notable playwrights. For example, Tom Stoppard’s satirical play Dirty-Linen and New-Found-Land enjoyed a run of four years at the theatre between 1976 and 1980.
The venue also houses two rehearsal rooms, a private members’ bar, and an upstairs performance space – the aptly named, Above The Arts. The venue is owned by Consolidated Development and is operated by JJ Goodman Ltd.