Greenwich Theatre has witnessed the “realisation of a vision” after the sell-out success of the first run of shows in its new studio space.

Artistic director James Haddrell helped to bring Under My Thumb, presented by Culture Clash, to the theatre, the first show to take place since the 60-80 seat venue was completed.

The play was performed in the smaller space while The Man Who Would Be King and then The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice played on the main stage.

James, who directed Under My Thumb, said: “This was the realisation of a vision for me. I’d had the notion for a studio in my mind for five or six years so it was incredibly exciting and fulfilling.

Greenwich Theatre has always been a bustling, driving hub of activity but all located around the single, main auditorium.

This is a complete change that’s sending the theatre in a very positive direction and is immensely satisfying to me personally.

“It was always a great frustration not to be able to offer new companies rehearsal space to experiment and try out new shows.

“The studio releases so much of that frustration and sits alongside our negotiations with the local authority for a 25-year lease.”

James Haddrell, artistic director at Greenwich Theatre

Under My Thumb is a drama about six women who are imprisoned for crimes against society, and Serin Ibrahim from Culture Clash said the space was “perfect” for the show.

He said: “We were delighted to launch the new studio space. The theatre plays such an important role in nurturing young companies like ours, but the financial burden of producing a show for a large theatre like Greenwich can be intimidating for companies just starting out.

“We needed a space in London where we can develop ideas, try out new shows in front of smaller audiences, and then hopefully take the best of those shows and transfer them to a larger scale.

“Every week of the year there seems to be a touring show heading around the country that has some kind of support from Greenwich – but the launch of the studio will make the support on offer even more significant.”

The studio’s flexible seating and technical facilities also open up opportunities for stand-up comedy, music gigs and various charity, community and business groups.

And a previously open plan office on the top floor is now being used for rehearsals.

“We’ve never been one of those theatres that’s dark during the day,” said James, “but now we’ve got so much more to offer the local community.”

“It’s helping to embed the way we want to work in a vibrant multi-space, multi-company venue, creating an exciting long-term future in the Royal Borough.”

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