Cambridge Arts Theatre

Cambridge Arts Theatre

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Cambridge Arts Theatre is a 666-seat theatre on Peas Hill
Peas Hill
Peas Hill is a street in central Cambridge, England. It runs between Wheeler Street to the south and Market Hill to the north. King's Parade runs parallel with the street to the west...

 in central Cambridge
Cambridge
The city of Cambridge is a university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire, England. It lies in East Anglia about north of London. Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen – a play on Silicon Valley and the fens surrounding the...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. The theatre presents a varied mix of drama
Drama
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" , which is derived from "to do","to act" . The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a...

, dance
Dance
Dance is an art form that generally refers to movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music, used as a form of expression, social interaction or presented in a spiritual or performance setting....

, opera
Opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 and pantomime
Pantomime
Pantomime — not to be confused with a mime artist, a theatrical performer of mime—is a musical-comedy theatrical production traditionally found in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, South Africa, India, Ireland, Gibraltar and Malta, and is mostly performed during the...

. It attracts some of the highest-quality touring productions in the country, as well as many shows direct from, or prior to, seasons in the West End
West End theatre
West End theatre is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London's 'Theatreland', the West End. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English speaking...

. Its annual Christmas pantomime
Pantomime
Pantomime — not to be confused with a mime artist, a theatrical performer of mime—is a musical-comedy theatrical production traditionally found in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, South Africa, India, Ireland, Gibraltar and Malta, and is mostly performed during the...

 is an established tradition in the city. For nearly a quarter century, the theatre was also home to the Cambridge Theatre Company, a renowned national touring company.

The Cambridge Arts Theatre is also home to the performances of Cambridge University's Marlowe Society and Gilbert & Sullivan Society, and it provides a venue for the university's triennial Cambridge Greek Play
Cambridge Greek Play
The Cambridge Greek Play is a play performed in Ancient Greek by students and alumni of the University of Cambridge, England. The event is held once every three years and is a tradition which started in 1882 with the Ajax of Sophocles....

. In previous years it also housed performances by the Cambridge Footlights and the Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society.

History


The Cambridge Arts Theatre opened in early 1936, under the control of a Trust "which is fully representative of the Town and the University", and of the Trust's board of trustees — the first of which included the Provost of King's College, its English and Music professors, the mayor and the deputy mayor. Its initial construction was paid for by renowned economist John Maynard Keynes
John Maynard Keynes
John Maynard Keynes, Baron Keynes of Tilton, CB FBA , was a British economist whose ideas have profoundly affected the theory and practice of modern macroeconomics, as well as the economic policies of governments...

, a fellow of King's College, and another fellow of King's — George Rylands
Dadie Rylands
George Humphrey Wolferstan Rylands CH CBE , known as Dadie Rylands, was a British literary scholar and theatre director. Educated at Eton College and King's College, Cambridge, he was a Fellow of King's from 1927 until his death.As well as being one of the world's leading Shakespeare scholars, he...

 — was also a Trustee. Keynes' wife Lydia Lopokova also supported the theatre's foundation.

George Rylands went on to be the theatre's chairman from 1946 to 1982. The theatre hosted the world première of Harold Pinter
Harold Pinter
Harold Pinter, CH, CBE was a Nobel Prize–winning English playwright and screenwriter. One of the most influential modern British dramatists, his writing career spanned more than 50 years. His best-known plays include The Birthday Party , The Homecoming , and Betrayal , each of which he adapted to...

's The Birthday Party
The Birthday Party (play)
The Birthday Party is the first full-length play by Harold Pinter and one of Pinter's best-known and most-frequently performed plays...

in 1958. Other premières have included Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know
Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know
Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know was a musical comedy revue which opened off Broadway in 1997. It was based on Wendy Perrin's travel book...

and Someone Like You
Someone Like You (musical)
Someone Like You is a musical with a book by Robin Midgley and Fay Weldon, lyrics by Dee Shipman, and music by Petula Clark.Based on a concept developed by Clark and Ferdie Pacheco over a period of several years, it is set in West Virginia immediately after the end of the Civil War...

. In September 2008 it hosted the world premiere of a new stage adaptation of Tracey Chevalier's play Girl with a Pearl Earring
Girl with a Pearl Earring (play)
Girl with a Pearl Earring is a 2008 play. Adapted from the novel of the same title by Tracy Chevalier, it premiered at the Cambridge Arts Theatre. It then received its London premiere at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 29 September 2008, directed by Joe Dowling and designed by Peter Mumford...

, prior to a transfer to the West End
West End theatre
West End theatre is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London's 'Theatreland', the West End. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English speaking...

. Artists to have appeared here include Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen
Sir Ian Murray McKellen, CH, CBE is an English actor. He has received a Tony Award, two Academy Award nominations, and five Emmy Award nominations. His work has spanned genres from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction...

 (in a Marlowe Society production of Cymbeline
Cymbeline
Cymbeline , also known as Cymbeline, King of Britain or The Tragedy of Cymbeline, is a play by William Shakespeare, based on legends concerning the early Celtic British King Cunobelinus. Although listed as a tragedy in the First Folio, modern critics often classify Cymbeline as a romance...

), Sir Derek Jacobi, and, more recently Susan Hampshire
Susan Hampshire
Susan Hampshire, Lady Kulukundis, OBE is an English actress, best-known for her many television and film roles.-Early life:Susan Hampshire was born in Kensington, London, the youngest of four children. She had two sisters and one brother...

, Nigel Havers
Nigel Havers
Nigel Allan Havers is an English actor. He is probably best known for his BAFTA-nominated role as Lord Andrew Lindsay in the 1981 British film Chariots of Fire, and for his role as Dr. Tom Latimer in the British TV comedy series Don't Wait Up...

, Simon Callow
Simon Callow
Simon Phillip Hugh Callow, CBE is an English actor, writer and theatre director. He is also currently a judge on Popstar to Operastar.-Early years:...

, and Warren Mitchell
Warren Mitchell
Warren Mitchell is an English actor who rose to initial prominence in the role of bigoted cockney Alf Garnett in the BBC television sitcom Till Death Us Do Part , and its sequels Till Death... and In Sickness and in Health , all of which were written by Johnny Speight...

.

Cambridge Theatre Company


Cambridge Arts Theatre was home to the Cambridge Theater Company (established 1969), which became one of the most respected and influential touring companies in the UK. The company enjoyed enormous loyalty in its home town, and many productions transferred to the West End
West End theatre
West End theatre is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London's 'Theatreland', the West End. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English speaking...

. Starring actors included Zoë Wanamaker
Zoe Wanamaker
Zoë Wanamaker, CBE is an American-British actress. She has performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company; in films, including the Harry Potter series; and in a number of television productions, including a long-time role as Susan Harper in the sitcom My Family.-Early life and family:Wanamaker was...

, Sheila Hancock
Sheila Hancock
Sheila Cameron Hancock, CBE is an English actress and author.-Early life:Sheila Hancock was born in Blackgang on the Isle of Wight, the daughter of Ivy Louise and Enrico Cameron Hancock, who was a publican. Her sister Billie is seven years older...

, Siân Phillips
Siân Phillips
Jane Elizabeth Ailwên "Siân" Phillips, CBE, is a Welsh actress.-Early life:Phillips was born in Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, Neath Port Talbot, Wales, the daughter of Sally , a teacher, and David Phillips, a steelworker-turned-policeman...

, Maureen Lipman
Maureen Lipman
Maureen Diane Lipman CBE is a British film, theatre and television actress, columnist and comedienne.-Early life:Lipman was born in Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England, the daughter of Maurice Julius Lipman and Zelma Pearlman. Her father was a tailor; he used to have a shop between the...

, and Ian Charleson
Ian Charleson
Ian Charleson was a Scottish stage and film actor. He is best known internationally for his starring role as Olympic athlete and missionary Eric Liddell, in the Oscar-winning 1981 film Chariots of Fire. He is also well known for his portrayal of Rev...

.

Directors of the company included Richard Cottrell
Richard Cottrell
Richard Cottrell is an English theatre director. He has been the Director of the Cambridge Theatre Company and the Bristol Old Vic in England, and of the Nimrod Theatre in Sydney, Australia...

 (1969–1975), Jonathan Lynn
Jonathan Lynn
Jonathan Lynn is an English actor, comedy writer and director. He is best known for being the co-writer of Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister.-Personal life:...

 (1976–1981), Bill Pryde (1981–1988), Robin Midgley
Robin Midgley
Robin Midgley was a director in theatre, television and radio and responsible for some of the earliest episodes of Z-Cars and for the television version of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Wars of the Roses.-Early life:...

 (1988–1991), and Mike Alfreds (1991–1999). The company's headquarters were moved to London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

in the mid-1990s, and its name was changed to "Method and Madness" 1995–1999 under the direction of Mike Alfreds.

External links