Best independent playhouses in London for theatre buffs
Insider guide created by London local Esme Verity
From Islington to Hackney Wick, find theatres on the fringe of London’s vibrant art scene. Whether you prefer comedy or tragedy, London is teaming with intimate theatre venues holding world-class performances, at a fraction of the price of West End Shows.
Converted from a vacant office block, Park Theatre is one of London’s newest theatres, minutes away from Green Rooms on the tube. This Finsbury Park theatre has a real community feel, with local residents helping to raise the £2.5 million funds to build this stunning playhouse. Supported by acting greats, Ian Mckellen and the late Alan Rickman, Park Theatre is collection of studio sized performance spaces that provide a uniquely intimate setting to watch world-class theatre.
Located in the heart of Islington, the 325-seat Almeida brings together the most exciting, emerging talent to produce breathtaking theatre performances. Having undergone an extensive overhaul in 2001, this historic theatre combines the beauty of 19th century interiors with the comfort of modern amenities. With an international reputation for excellence, the Almedia stage often attracts productions that regularly transfer to the West End, meaning audiences get exclusive early access to the best of the West End.
For lovers of East London, Arcola Theatre is the perfect spot to see cutting edge performances from world-renowned companies. For over 16 years Arcola has been premiering international acclaimed playwrights, including Bonnie Greer, Frank McGuiness and Sam Shepard. Located in a former paint factory close to Dalston junction, Arcola strives for diversity on and off staging, offering 26 weeks of free rehearsal space to emerging theatre makers and people of colour.
Insider tip: Now in its 10th year, Arcola hosts an Opera Festival each year offering seven weeks of lively performances at affordable prices.
The Yard Theatre
Six years ago, artistic director Jay Miller decided to convert a disused warehouse in Queens Yard, Hackney Wick into a vibrant performance space to tell contemporary stories of modern lives. The Yard, now an established theatre, is modestly sized and built from recycled material lovingly put together by 50 volunteers. It may be small in size, but it has hosted extraordinary performances, collaborating with big names in theatre, including the Young Vic, Royal Court and High Tide Festivals.
Camden People's Theatre
A small theatre, minutes away from Warren Street station in Central London, Camden People’s Theatre is all about showcasing new and upcoming artists. For over 20 years they have been supporting emerging artists giving them a venue for their art. With a fully stocked bar of locally sourced craft beer, wine and cider, sit down, relax and enjoy some unconventional theatre.