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Best Local Community Theatres

“To enter a Theatre for a performance is to be inducted into a magical space, to be ushered into the sacred arena of the imagination.” – Simon Callow

Photograph courtesy of London Theatres

 

One thing that concerned many of us during the pandemic was the survival of our beloved London Theatres. With the theatrical space demanding a live audience, live action and rehearsal time, it seemed impossible to transfer the experience digitally (although some may argue NT Live has achieved this). Nevertheless, the relief that we can now see real people performing classic texts at Shakespeare’s Globe or expose our kids to unique interactive performances at The Unicorn Theatre is life-changing, especially for our youngsters.

 

There are so many incredible teen clubs, communities and schemes on this list to support emerging young talent and make the industry open to persons of all backgrounds. Many Theatres listed here also offer free tickets to shows for their local community as well as performance and tech opportunities for budding thespians. The show must go on, as they say, but now your family can truly be a part of it.

 

Kiln Theatre, Kilburn

The doors to the Kiln Theatre, Kilburn, once known as the Tricycle

 

 

 

Originally known as ‘The Tricycle’, The Kiln Theatre focuses on bringing unheard voices into the mainstream. Located in Brent, the most culturally diverse borough in London, this local venue has an international vision that inspires people from all walks of life to get involved.

 

 

 

Why we love it

You can grab a Kiln Card for great family discounts. For only £40 per year, you’ll receive 6 free tickets to any regular cinema screenings, 10% discount on full price items at the bar and priority booking for productions, special events and Q&As.

 

 

 

Why your kids will love it

The Kiln Theatre has some incredible FREE opportunities for kids and teens, including weekly sessions are for artists aged 7-11 and 12-15 who live or go to school in North West London. There are also free playwriting workshops for older teens (participants must be 16+ and live, learn or earn in North West London).

 

 

Essential info

Kiln Theatre & Cinema has been voted one of the Top Ten Most Accessible Venues in West London by the Octavia Foundation. The Theatre offers at least three wheelchair seats for any performance plus guide / service dogs are always welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Park Theatre, Finsbury Park

Find cheap family tickets in Finsbury Park’s Park Theatre

 

 

 

With a mixture of new writing and modern revivals, The Park Theatre aim to tell “accessible, real-to-life stories” to reflect upon the world around us. The company produce many in-house as well as partnership productions.

 

Why we love it

The Park Theatre proudly embrace work made by women, ethnically diverse, working class, disabled and LGBTQ+ artists and characters. We are all for this inclusivity!

 

 

Why your kids will love it

There are plenty of a weekly courses and half term activites for your kids at The Park Theatre. For children aged 7-11 who enjoy drama, play and having fun, the Act & Play courses develop skills in acting, movement, voice and theatre-making. It’s a brilliant thing to do during a half-term or holiday break. There is also Park Theatre Younger Company, where participants aged 12-14 look at scripts and bring characters to life, as well as exploring their own identity and passion as the next generation of artists.

 

 

Essential info

There are two wheelchair spaces in Park200 and one wheelchair space in Park90 and two accessible toilets with baby changing facilities on the Lower Ground and 1st floors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chickenshed

Live action from the chickenshed

 

 

 

Chickenshed brings together people of all ages and from all backgrounds to produce outstanding theatre that inspires. and challenges audiences. The Theatre’s mission is to create entertaining and outstanding theatre that celebrates diversity and inspires positive change.

 

 

Why we love it

Chickenshed runs children’s and youth theatres for over 800 young people, operates three nationally accredited education courses, engages in community outreach projects and has established a growing network of ‘sheds’ across the UK.

 

 

Why your kids will love it

As well as having the opportunity to develop their performance skills and take part in main house productions, every kid and young person who takes part gets to grow and thrive in an inclusive environment where being different is celebrated. The Children’s and Youth Theatres are in such high demand, Chickenshed aren’t always able to offer a place for new members straight away so make sure your children really focus on writing a brilliant application!

 

 

Essential info

Chickenshed offer Captioned, Sign Interpreted and Audio Described performances. There is also plenty of access for wheelchair users and other people with mobility requirements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orange Tree Theatre

Performance at The Orange Tree Theatre

 

 

 

The Orange Tree Theatre is an award-winning, independent Theatre that focuses on creating high-quality productions of new and rediscovered plays. The company have a huge following, entertaining over 70,000 people across the UK every year.

 

 

 

Why we love it

As a registered charity, Orange Tree work with 10,000 people in their Richmond community through participatory theatre projects for people of all ages and abilities.

 

Why your kids will love it

The community groups here are for all ages. Sessions are led by professional directors, theatre-makers and actors who are highly experienced in working with and for children, young people and adults, including those with additional needs and challenges surrounding mental health.

 

 

Essential info

The Richmond theatre has a ramp, handrails on both sides of staircases, a lift and an accessible toilet. Level access is available to the lower level of seating. Guide dogs are also welcome, just make sure to let the box office know prior to booking your ticket.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Theatre

National Theatre beside the River Thames, London

 

 

 

The iconic National Theatre, right on the Southbank, delivers world-class theatre for all ages. Talented performers such as the late Helen McCrory, Damian Lewis, Helena Bonham Carter, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Garfield and many other celebs have graced the stage here.

 

 

 

Why we love it

UK residents aged between 16 – 25 years old can now unlock £5 and £10 tickets for some of the most popular shows performed at The National. It is common knowledge that Theatre tickets are expensive and often cater to the elite, but we love this effort to introduce more young people to theatre without breaking the bank. Not to mention the foyer is often full of many famous actors!

 

Why your kids will love it

NYT work with young people aged 14-21 to explore every aspect of theatre-making through courses, workshops and creative projects. From playwriting to producing, there’s something for every kid interested in the industry. Many of these community groups or summer school cost money, but the Theatre does offer free programmes online, particularly aiming to support young people most impacted by the events of the pandemic.

 

 

Essential info

Joining the National Theatre‘s Access List will allow you to book Disabled concession tickets online, by phone and in person. Click here to fill out the relevant form and be sure to be supported in any way you need for your visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gate Theatre

The Gate Theatre, Notting Hill

 

 

The Gate Theatre was founded in Notting Hill in 1979 to stage groundbreaking international plays. Today, The Gate exists to make international Theatre that is representative of the diverse local community.

 

 

Why we love it

The Gate has begun a series of podcasts to celebrate international performances and global voices, available to listen to online. Those still rightly concerned about social distancing and COVID-19 can still be engaged with Theatre via this platform.

 

 

Why your teens will love it

Inform your teen thespian about the Young Associates company at The Gate, a group of young writers, performers, directors and dancers aged 17-23. Across a year-long programme of workshops, mentoring sessions and performance opportunities, the company work to provide members with “the practical tools they need to begin their careers as theatre makers”.

 

Essential info

As a small 75-seat venue above a pub, this theatre is not currently accessible for wheelchair users and those with impaired mobility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Golden Goose Theatre

Rufus Love in ‘The Cold Approach’ at The Golden Goose Theatre, Camberwell

 

 

 

The Golden Goose is a new 100-seat theatre in the heart of Camberwell, founded by writer/director Michael Kingsbury and led by Artistic Director Georgia Leanne Harris. The venue only opened in October 2020, aiming to become a creative hub for artists to make all kinds of theatrical experiences.

 

 

 

Why we love it

The lowkey atmosphere of the place as a back room amongst a pub brings a sense of magic and potential to this location.

 

Essential info

There is currently ramped access into the building and auditorium from street level as well as a fully wheelchair accessible bathroom in the bar area of the building.

Please note there is unfixed seating, so if you are a wheelchair user and wish to watch the show in your chair, please either notify The Golden Goose when you book, or just let the box office staff know when you arrive and a suitable space will be made available for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cockpit Theatre

Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cockpit is a fringe theatre based in Marylebone. Designed by Edward Mendelsohn and built in 1969–70 by the Inner London Education Authority as a community theatre, it is notable as London’s first purpose-built Theatre in the round since the Great Fire of London.

 

 

 

 

 

Why we love it

The Camden Fringe is an alternative Edinburgh Fringe, offering performers the chance to try out new material in a festival setting, without the time and money needed to take a show all the way to Scotland. The Cockpit has been a key venue at the festival for the last 5 years and they are now accepting applicatitons for 2022 so creators, stay tuned!

 

 

 

Why your kids will love it

There are monthly kids shows held at The Cockpit, usually on the last Saturday of the month. For a family of 4, group tickets are just £30 so you can save a few pennies while introducing your kiddies to the world of theatre.

 

 

Essential info

There is level access to the foyer, bar and foyer toilets but after that it gets tricky. There are six steps down from the foyer to the auditorium.  Access to the auditorium is possible for wheelchair users via the car park and rear entrance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bush Theatre

Outside glass doors of The Bush Theatre, Shepherd’s Bush

 

 

 

 

 

The Bush Theatre is a world-famous home for new plays and playwrights. Often, the Theatre choose to promote contemporary stories that are provocative and entertaining, such as Red Pitch (2022). Since 1972, The Bush has won over 100 awards and produced hundreds of original plays.

 

 

 

 

Why we love it

The Bush makes plays in one of the most culturally diverse areas in London. The team are also strongly committed to environmental sustainability, using solar panels on the roof of the theatre and recycling 74% of all waste. It’s a huge achievement for a London-based Theatre!

 

 

 

Why your teens will love it

The Bush Theatre has recently built “a crash course in theatre-making for local 14-17 year olds”. The weekly theatre making workshops explore storytelling, acting for stage, creative writing, and different roles in the industry, following the success of their 2021 Summer project. For more information about the Young People’s Company, email community@bushtheatre.co.uk.

 

 

Essential info

The Theatre holds a range of assisted performances throughout the year, including audio described and captioned performances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soho Theatre

The busy bar at the Soho Theatre

 

Soho Theatre is a renowned charity and social enterprise, which launched the likes of Phoebe Waller Bridge and provides a platform for many inspiring young playwrights to have their say. The Theatre opened in early 1970s as ‘Soho Poly’, a small but influential fringe theatre that closed in 1990, only to reopen in London’s West End in March 2000.

 

 

 

Why we love it

Soho Upstairs is a fantastic space for brave new writing, where many one-woman and one-man shows have taken place. Tickets are often cheap (£10-12) and its’ got the fringe feel about it.

 

 

 

Why your kids will love it

Quite a bit of the productions on offer aren’t for kids, but they also cater to families very well. A top pick is Comedy Club 4 Kids, essentially top comedy without the swear words and other rude bits. The kids will find it funny, and, more importantly, so will you.

 

 

Essential info

Soho Theatre’s box office and bar is accessible on the Ground Floor as you enter the building. All other floors are accessible by lift. There are wheelchair-user accessible toilets on the ground, second and third floors of the building.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artsdepot

Photograph courtesy of artsdepot

 

 

 

artsdepot is a multi-award winning cultural hub voted Best Age Friendly Welcome‘ at the 2018 Fantastic For Families Awards. The venue showcases a range of art and activities including a 395 seat theatre and 148 seat studio theatre, creation spaces,dance and art studios as well as a free children’s playspace, café and bar.

 

 

 

 

 

Why we love it

There are many Adult and Teen classes available to book, including Boxfit, Pilates and even a dance group for over 60s! Get the grandparents involved in your family outing.

 

 

 

Why your kids will love it

There are so many incredible Children’s Classes on at artsdepot, it’s unreal! From mini mozart and baby classes to IQ fitness kickboxing, there is something going on for every kid. Celebrate their individuality before the teen years kick in and they do everything to hide it!

 

 

Essential info

artsdepot offer BSL interpreted performances,events designed for D/deaf and hearing audiences equally, captioned performances and relaxed performances & events for those with babies or learning difficulties. They really do cater to everyone here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lyric Hammersmith is in creative heart of West London, right by Hammersmith tube station and around the corner from LAMDA drama school. The production team have a prime focus on inclusivity and claim they are “unafraid of change”. This equals radical and exciting Theatre that stuns audiences!

 

 

 

Why we love it

The Lyric offer many classes may of which are not Theatre related, such as Studio Sessions (14+), Children’s Ballet (3-11years) and Move-It Mondays!

 

 

 

Why your kids will love it

Young Lyric Membership is a FREE opportunity scheme for young people living in West London. Members up to 25 years old will be able to take part in a range of classes and will receive regular updates on auditions and professional training opportunities throughout the year. It’s a great space to meet new people and better your confidence on and off stage.

Essential info

The Theatre is fully equipped with elevators to the Main House and to the Reuben Foundation Wing, where most the classes and activities take place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

 

 

Come rain or shine (hopefully shine), the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is a fantastic place to spend a summer’s day. Open between May and September, it showcases a range of four different productions annually. From comedy and classics through to Shakespeare, the Theatre provides something to suit all theatre-lovers.

 

 

Why we love it

In winter, when the Theatre is closed, you can still watch plays as many of the past productions   have now become available through the ‘Beyond the Park’ programme. You can read more about this here.

 

 

 

Why your kids will love it

This superb venue is an enjoyable and inspiring place to introduce kids to the Theatre, not least due to the determination of the actors, who will endeavour to play through all forms of bad weather (as we’re accustomed to in Britain). However, be sure to check the forecast before you come as brollies, ponchos and wellies may be necessary!

 

Essential info

Due to the nature of the theatre, your choice of disabled seats may be limited however there are many specially assisted performances held. Join the Access Online scheme for cheaper tickets where you can also detail your unique requirements to insure comfortability during your performance 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unicorn Theatre

Juliet Okotie, Afia Abusam & Sapphire Joy in “Anansi The Spider” at The Unicorn Theatre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unicorn Theatre offers innovative and thrilling experiences for children aged up to 13, producing and presenting new shows alongside adaptations of classic texts. The group welcome 65,000 families and schools to performs every year.

 

 

 

 

 

Why we love it

In response to the current pandemic situation, the Theatre re-released free Unicorn Online performances for ages 2+. Children having unlimited access to creative, imaginative and hopeful theatre experiences is a real blessing in today’s society, and many of the online shows have the option of captions, as well as an additional audio description available for ‘Marvin’s Binoculars’.

 

Why your kids will love it

The team here understand the importance of seperating age groups (siblings don’t often like being put with their younger counterparts) so the performances are seperated into ages 0-3, 4-7 and 8-12. Of course, there are still family performances that cater to all age groups.

 

Essential info

The building is wheelchair accessible throughout, assistance dogs are welcome and Sennheiser hearing loops are available on request. There is an accessible toilet on the basement level with both stairs and lift to access. There is also a second accessible toilet on floor 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brixton House

Brixton House, previously named Oval House, set to open in 2022

 

 

 

 

2022 will see a brand new Theatre open in the heart of Brixton called Brixton House (previously Oval House). The team invite “people and artists at various stages of their journey to create innovative work that moves us towards a more inclusive global society.”

 

 

 

 

Why we love it

Carlton Mansions, the Victorian building next to Brixton House, has been restored by Lambeth Council to house 26 workspace units offered at affordable rents to the arts and creative industries.

 

 

Why your kids will love it

Demonstrate! is a fantastic dance-led Participatory Arts programme for children and young people with learning, complex and profound disabilities and/or autism on offer at the theatre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theatre Peckham

Theatre Peckham, the former Peckham Town Hall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theatre Peckham is part of the Arts Council England’s National Portfolio. Although the venue on has 200-seats, the Theatre showcases many exciting performances representative of the South London community.

 

 

 

 

 

Why we love it

There is a range of events held in both the Theatre and studio space, such as Chair Yoga, Creative Expression Therapy as well as the Positive Futures scheme that supports a group of young people aged 14-18 from Arco Academy in Southwark. The focus on well-being and mental health as well as the community born at this venue to be cherished.

 

 

 

Why your teens will love it

Young Peckham offers opportunities to all budding actors, producers and writers. The popular Rep Company is open to 17-25 year olds, which provides over a year of training and ends with an Autumn production on Theatre Peckham’s mainstage by a professional playwright in a specially commissioned play!

 

Essential info

Theatre Peckham aim to be as accessible as possible. The foyer, theatre, and downstairs studio have step-free access as well as toilets on the ground floor and upstairs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Putney Arts Theatre

Performance at the Putney Arts Theatre

 

 

Putney Arts Theatre is driven by solely by a community of active members that includes local Putney residents, people from the borough of Wandsworth and from further afield throughout London.

 

 

 

Why we love it

Putney Theatre Company produces between around 10-12 shows a year, plus other activities such as rehearsed readings.  Auditions for the PTC productions are open to all adult members, so parents who want to get involved can! However, you don’t need to be a member to audition – you just need to join if cast in a production.

 

Why your kids will love it

Joining the Putney Theatre Company is a brillant idea for your drama queens and kings. There are opportunities for kids interested in theatre-making, stage management, performing, set building and light design. As well as this, the sister to PTC, Group 64 Theatre runs weekly drama classes for ages 4-19, holiday projects, and opportunities to be involved in performance, directing and technical theatre.

 

 

Essential info

The main stage can accommodate up to 10 wheelchair users, and the studio space can accommodate up to 3. Other amneties include a unisex accessible toilet, baby changing facilities and a ramp leading up to the space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tower Theatre, Stoke Newington

Tower Theatre, Stoke Newington

 

 

 

The Tower Theatre has been running for over 90 years, producing high quality yet affordable drama. The in-house company has more than 700 Members and presents up to 18 productions in Stoke Newington.

 

 

 

 

Why we love it

The company produce a range of low budget and full-scale productions, where only members of the company get involved. Hugely successful summer tours with the Tower Theatre Company include the ever popular Minack Theatre in Cornwall every 2 years plus regular excursions to the beautiful Jardin Shakespeare in Paris, an open air garden Theatre where for nearly 30 years we have performed many of Shakespeare’s classics.

 

 

Essential info

From the street, there is a ramp to the front door. There is then a platform lift to the ground floor giving wheelchair access to the bar, box office, main rehearsal room and meeting room. There is a disabled accessible toilet on the ground floor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Young Vic

Young Vic, South East London

 

 

 

The Young Vic, sister to the well-established ‘Old Vic‘, is a community-based Theatre set on supporting emerging young talent. When speaking for the company, Sir Laurence Olivier said, “Here we think to develop plays for young audiences, an experimental workshop for authors, actors and producers.”

 

 

 

Why we love it

Taking Part is a subsection at The Young Vic that works with young people, adults, schools, and the local community to prove free tickets to all shows as well as free creative and artistic opportunities. We think this concept is really inspiration, making sure that persons from all backgrounds can be integrated and exposed to the arts.

 

Essential info

The Young Vic aim to cater for every audience member’s needs. If you’re coming to see a show and have specific access requirements, please contact boxoffice@youngvic.org in advance so the team can make sure your visit is as enjoyable as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shakespeare’s Globe

 

 

 

Go back in time and discover the enthralling world of the great playwright himself at Shakespeare’s Globe.

 

 

 

Why we love it

There is a wonderful Exhibition and Tour which explores Shakespeare’s life in London of the 16th-17th century. Through fascinating recreations of the taverns and bawdy-houses in the Globe, which was in the heart of London’s entertainment district at the time, the exhibition gives you a sense of what it would have been like to attend the Globe during Shakespearean times.

 

 

 

Why your kids will love it

Get the whole family involved with playful, educational and interactive workshops, courses and events, including the Globe’s first ever full-scale production for families in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse this Summer 2022. Performances include Much Ado About Nothing, Julius Caesar, King Lear and The Tempest. Introducing your kids to the language of Shakespeare aswell as great storytelling in an easy to understand format is an opportunity not to be missed.

 

 

Essential info

Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people are encouraged to join the Globe’s Access Scheme so that they may be assisted in finding suitable seating while helping the team understand your specific needs.

 

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