Theatre Royal - Gerry Raffles Place, Stratford, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 32.563 E 000° 00.057
31U E 292043 N 5714443
Quick Description: The Theatre Royal Stratford East is a theatre in Stratford in the London Borough of Newham. Since 1953, it has been the home of the Theatre Workshop company. The theatre was built in 1884 to a design by J G Buckle.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 10/7/2012 1:50:26 AM
Waymark Code: WMFEGM
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 1

Long Description:

The Arthur Lloyd website [visit link] includes internal photos tells us:

"The Theatre Royal, Stratford East was built in 1884 and was designed by J. G. Buckle who also helped with the designs of the Royal English Opera House in Cambridge Circus, London, now the Palace Theatre. The Theatre Royal, Stratford is the only surviving example of a London suburban Theatre with an un-cantilevered auditorium supported by columns. The exterior of the building is plain, to say the least, but the auditorium, built on three levels, stalls and two balconies, is far more attractive.

The Theatre opened on Wednesday the 17th of December 1884 with a production of the Bulwer Lytton's play 'Richelieu', and three days later the ERA printed a review of the new building and the opening night production in their 20th of December 1884 edition saying:

'On Wednesday evening last a new theatre was opened in Selway-road, (sic) Angel-lane, Stratford, giving promise of abundant amusement to dwellers in the far East. The outside of the building we must describe as ugly in the extreme, but the interior presents a very pretty and attractive appearance. The theatre, which it is estimated will accommodate about one thousand persons, has been built by Messrs David G. Laing and Son from designs and under the direction of the well-known architect Mr James George Buckle, A.R.I.B.A., of Adam-street, Ade1phi.

The lines of the house are so arranged that a good view of the stage is obtained from every seat, and the auditorium is ventilated by means of a central sunlight and large extraction cowl over the gallery. A similar cowl ventilates the stage, and there is ample provision for fresh air.

The main exit from the stalls, circle, and the bar of the Theatre Royal, Stratford East in August 2009. The means of exit are ample, comprising two from each circle and three from the pit. The main exits are 9ft. wide, with four additional, each 4ft. 6in. wide. There are two staircases to each circle 4f t. 6in. wide, and constructed with fireproof materials and situated outside the walls of the auditorium. The theatre has been built in accordance with all the recent regulations imposed on metropolitan theatres, and the woodwork throughout, not excepting the seats, has been coated with Astropy's patent cyanite, a fireproof solution which has been recommended by Captain Shaw.

The interior fittings are of a very elaborate and elegant description, but in truth it must be said that the approaches at present are in an exceedingly rough state, and that there is pervading the place a smell of paint which is anything but refreshing. Messrs Vaughan and Brown, gas engineers, of Farringdon-road, have fitted for the auditorium one of their patent ventillating sun burners, and have supplied polished brass brackets, in Queen Anne style, for the vestibule and corridors. On the prompt side of the stage they have fitted an index plate to govern the whole of the house in different sections, and have fitted a 300-light meter for the stage, and a 100-light ditto for the front of the house. The large illumination for the outside is also their work. The estimated cost of the building is between £3,000 and £4,000.

On the opening night there was a full attendance, the play presented by the lessee, Mr W. Charles Dillon, being Bulwer Lytton's Richelieu, with the following cast :-

Louis the Thirteenth Mr ARCHIBALD GRATSDELL
Gaston, Duke of Orleans Mr A. MUNRO
Baradas Mr W. INNES
Cardinal Richelieu Mr W. CHARLES DILLON
The Chevalier de Mauprat Mr FREDERICK THOMAS
De Beringen Mr J. KERR
Julie de Mortemar Miss BLANCHE ELLIOTT
Marion de Lorme Miss NELLIE HORSMAN

Mr Dillon won much applause. He worked under difficulties, and in one important scene had to interrupt the action of the play in order to reprove some inattentive gods who were appeasing their appetites. At the end of the act Mr Dillon very properly delivered the dwellers on high a lecture on the sin of cracking nuts, and it is to be hoped they will profit by his very earnest reproof. "You treat me fairly," said Mr Dillon, "and I will treat you fairly, and will give you good entertainment; but I certainly will not have the beautiful lines of this play spoiled and my artists insulted by your rude behaviour." The De Mauprat of Mr F. Thomas was a really fine performance, and Miss Elliott must be complimented on a good impersonation of Julie de Mortemar. Her presence was very attractive, and a sergeant of police who took a seat next to us remarked in confidence "if that 'ed of 'air's hall 'er hown, sir, it's a very fine one, and she ought to be proud on it." Mr Charles Horsman made a satisfactory Joseph, and a compliment may well be paid to Miss Georgina Mansfield for her impersonation of Francois. A comedietta concluded the entertainment, Miss Lucy Hawthorne contributing some songs. Hamlet and Richard III are in rehearsal, and on Boxing Night is promised a "grand production" of Proof.'

In the 1950s and 60s Joan Littlewood made the Theatre Royal internationally famous. She also wrote and directed her masterpiece there, 'Oh! What A Lovely War' in 1963. Gerry Raffles Square is named after Littlewood's professional and personal partner. And it was he who personally prevented the bulldozers from demolishing the Theatre during the redevelopment of the square.

In the 1970s the Theatre Royal was a regular and popular venue for a wide variety of Sunday entertainment put on for local people. One of these regulars was Mrs Shufflewick, one of the last of the Music Hall style performers. This recording of Mrs Shufflewick's act was made at the New Black Cap in Camden Town in 1972.

In 1992 the auditorium of the Theatre was restored to its former glory and can now accommodate up to 460 people. There is also a long bar which stretches alongside the stage and is open to the public and artistes alike, and is frequently home to live music and comedy events. The site where the Theatre stands, now called Gerry Raffles Square, has been modernised and improved no end and although the Theatre's facade is still a little bland this is ofset by the bars, cafes, and the Picturehouse Cinema which now surround it."

The Theatre Royal is a Grade II* listed building and the entry at the English Heritage website [visit link] tells us:

"Theatre includes No 61 Angel Lane. 1884. Architect J G Buckle with later additions. Commissioned by Charles Silver, actor-manager. Plain exterior. Chanelled stucco ground storey with painted brick upper storeys. Roof not visible. Central range with corner stucco pilasters rising through upper storeys to support cornice and parapet. Central stucco panel with raised inscription reading 'Theatre Royal'. Central oriel window above with enriched stucco apron. Interior retains original ornament and decoration. Two galleries supported by range of cast iron columns. Two boxes flank central proscenium arch. Delicate plasterwork to ceiling, boxes and balcony fronts. Side extensions added in 1887 and stage enlarged to rear in 1891. Reputedly an unique example in London or suburban theatre constructed on cast beams and columns rather than steel cantilevers."

Theater Name: Theatre Royal

Country: United Kingdom

Gerry Raffles Square
London, United Kingdom
E15 1BN

Web Site: [Web Link]

Venue: Private Theater

Type of Productions:
Plays, pantomimes, musicals

Restored Building: yes

Date of Construction: 1884

Architect/Designer: J G Buckle

Seating Capacity: 430

Stage Type: Not listed

Special Productions/Events/Festivals: Not listed

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