| Disabled Access:
No steps from the Box Office to the auditorium. Alternatively, you can be dropped off at the Stage Door, which is a little closer to the
auditorium. 4 permanent wheelchair spaces in the auditorium, on either side of the Stalls. Companions can be seated nearby.
Total of 8 wheelchair spaces.
The Box Office is just outside the gates to the
theatre, there is a gentle slope, with handrail (no steps) to the restaurant, bar area and auditorium. 18 shallow steps down to the
front row of the Stalls (no handrails).
The Open Air Theatre has been a permanent feature in London’s Regent’s Park since 1932.
With one of the largest auditoria in London, it is the oldest, professional, permanent outdoor theatre in Britain and its annual 15-week season is attended by over 130,000 each year.
Under the inaugural directorship of Robert Atkins, the theatre became famous for its productions of Shakespeare. Among many, Jack Hawkins and Anna Neagle starred in Twelfth Night, Vivien Leigh in Henry VIII and Dulcie Grey in a wartime company when matinee-only seasons were presented, in order not to contravene the black out.
In 1962 David Conville, took over from Atkins. The theatre grew from strength to strength over the next 25 years. Shakespeare productions included Othello with Robert Stephens and Edward Fox as Othello and Iago, The Taming of the Shrew with Jeremy Irons and Zoe Wanamaker, and a young Ralph Fiennes as Romeo. Many of these productions toured nationally at the close of each season. The repertoire also extended beyond Shakespeare and included plays such as Cyrano de Bergerac, a hugely popular presentation of Anouilh’s Ring Around Moon and numerous productions of Shaw. In 1975 park chairs arrayed on the sloping grass banks were replaced by a proper auditorium with tiered seating, and on 12 July, 1982 Her Majesty The Queen attended a Golden Jubilee performance.
Ian Talbot succeeded David Conville in 1987. Ian introduced musical theatre to the Park and it continues to be a hugely popular part of each season. These productions, ranging from Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum starring Roy Hudd to Gershwin’s Lady Be Good starring Bernard Cribbins and Joanna Riding, have received over twenty Olivier nominations including a win for Judi Dench’s production of The Boys From Syracuse. In recent years the theatre has also developed Sunday concerts hosting a number of unique performances from high profile names including The Finn Brothers, KT Tunstall, Stacey Kent, Seth Lakeman, Simply Red, Daniel Kitson, and Jimmy Carr.
2008 was Timothy Sheader’s first season as Artistic Director. He previously directed Twelfth Night here starring Martin Jarvis and Desmond Barrit. A highlight of his first season was the theatre’s signature piece, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This new production, re-imagined for everyone aged six and over, was the first time that the children’s play (an annual event) is one of Shakespeare’s.
The Open Air Theatre is leased by The Royal Parks (on behalf of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport) to The New Shakespeare Company Ltd which is a registered charity and a not-for-profit company. It receives no public subsidy and the work is funded entirely by the operating activities.