Sitting right in the heart of Sloane Square is the 135 year old Royal Court Theatre, and they’re now offering tours of the building and the backstage areas.
The current building, the second on the site, opened in 1888 as the New Court Theatre but was converted into a cinema in 1935 until it was closed by WWII bomb damage. Rebuilt as a theatre after the war, it reopened in 1952 with a mission to present plays by young and experimental dramatists and “the best contemporary plays from abroad”
Such was the topic of some of their plays that in the 1960s the theatre had to be redefined as a private members club to evade government censorship, which was still in force at the time. Later, in 1973, it was also where the Rocky Horror Show held its premiere. In the 1990s the theatre was threatened with closure due to the state of the building, but a rebuilding programme saved it with most of the backstage areas rebuilt, leaving the frontage and auditorium as they were.
Today, it’s a mix of Victorian and modern inside, and you can very obviously see which is which as the architects slipped a contemporary shell around the old theatre space and also added in the basement that runs underneath Sloane Square itself.
They opened the building for an open day in March 2022, but haven’t done so since (that I know of) but are now offering guided tours which let you see around the building and go backstage as well.
At the time of writing, tours are available on the following dates:
- Thu 12th Oct at 12.30pm
- Thu 19th Oct at 12.00pm
- Sat 21st Oct at 12.00pm
- Sat 28th Oct at12.00pm
- Fri 17th Nov at 2.30pm
- Tue 23rd Jan 2024 at 2.00pm
The tours last a bit over an hour and can be booked from here.
- £10 Backstage Tour
- £15 Backstage Tour with Cream Tea
- £19.50 Backstage Tour with Cream Tea and Fizz
Photos from that previous open day in March 2022. I knew I’d have a use for them eventually.