Arts and Entertainment, London
Originally opened as the "Royal Coburg Theatre" in 1818, the Old Vic is a genuine theatrical landmark - and still an important venue for high quality drama in England. Edmund Kean, Lilian Baylis, and John Gielgud are just three of the legends who have been associated with this theatre. Now Kevein Spacey is artistic director of the theatre, and fine actors from both sides of the Atlantic may be seen on its famous stage. I had the good fortune of catching a production here put on by the "Bridge Project", a venture whose guru is film director Mr. Kate Winslet (aka Sam Mendes). I saw Shakespeare's "Winter Tale" with Ethan Hawke, Simon Russell Beale, Sinead Cusack and Victoria Hall - I thought it was excellent.
The location of the Old Vic is a little peculiar - an area south of Waterloo Station where a lot of people pass through in a hurry. Post-theatre options for dining or drinking are limited. The Old Vic seats 1067 patrons; it's a nice theatre and it should be mentioned that its seats are somewhat more spacious and comfortable than those at some well-known West End Theatres.
Fondest memory: The Old Vic is located at the intersection of "The Cut" and Waterloo Road. It's about a five minute walk from Waterloo Station - if you know where you're going!
Historic 18th Century theatre that has played a central role in London's dramatic life for more than 200 years. It is the 3rd oldest London theatre still in use. (It's the "Royal Haymarket" because of a special permit it received from the crown in 1766 to present "straight" non-musical dramas.)
The first Haymarket Theatre dates back to the 1720s. The current building was originally a little further up the street - it was moved (carefully) down the street in 1821, and redesigned by George IV's favorite architect John Nash. It is now a Grade I Listed building - which means that it is very very very important! Seating capacity is 888 - and some of the seats are pretty tight. If you are tall, try for an aisle!
I've seen several shows - and great actors at the Royal Haymarket over the years. Most recently, in the summer 2009 I had the pleasure of watching Sir Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart in "Waiting for Godot" here.
Fondest memory: On the Haymarket, just down from Piccadilly Circus
The Palace Theatre was built in the 1880s by Sir Richard d'Oyly Carte, the impressario who was also the patron of the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. He meant it to be a home for English Grand Opera, the counterpart of his existing Savoy Theatre on the Strand, which was the home of English Light Opera. Hence its unusally large size for its time - 1400 - and certainly more ornament and glitter was to be found here than in most other theatres of its time.
I saw "Les Miserables" here in 1997 with my friend Stuart, shown here posing in front of the theatre. Incidentally, "Les Mis" had a run of 19 years at The Palce, from 1985 to 2004! That's a lot of manning the barracades and chasing after Jean Valjean.
Fondest memory: The Palace Theatre dominates Cambridge Circus, where Charing Cross Road meets Shaftesbury Ave.
Favorite thing: The statue of poet Sir John Betjeman, made by sculptor Martin Jennings, is located next to the Eurostar platforms of the St Pancras Station. It's a homage of the LCR (London and Continental Railways) to the man who was the driving force behind efforts to save the station when it was threatened by development plans during the 1960's.
Is there a day that goes by in London when something surreal and sublime doesn't happen? Whether it's on a small personal scale or on a HUGE public scale like The Sultan's Elephant, a four day, street theatre event organised by The Arts Council for England and The Mayor of London.
The Sultans Elephant is a 40 foot high, 42 tonne automaton and his companion is The Giant Girl.
Fondest memory: I think I probably have said this before, but it still holds true. Amongst the mundane, humdrum, and sometimes downright tiresome, it's always possible to find something in this city that is magical and mysterious... this massive puppet was unexpected and just beautiful!
We found the Elephant in Trafalgar Square, the roads in the area had been closed off for his procession on Saturday and he was having a rest outside the National Gallery. There were thousands of people waiting there for his arrival and taking photos, and a BIG WELL DONE to those guys in orange who do a great job of crowd control! Thanks :)
Please check the website for more info about the story of The Sultans Elephant
I can't really give a fondest memory, every time I go there, I just love it!! Every time is different and special in it's own unique way.
I suppose the first time I went to London, as a teenager, would have to be one of the fondest memories. I was 17 and I was in love with my very first boyfriend Andy. We went to the West end, but he didn't really know his way around, so we ended up deciding to go to the cinema for the afternoon. He wanted to see a blue/porn film (at that age I hadn't even seen one), I wanted to see the big film at the time, 'Close encounters of the third kind'. So we saw what I wanted, at The Odeon Theatre, Leicester square. Whilst in there, he wanted to have a snog (kiss), I wanted to watch the film! If I go to the cinema, I want to see the movie, there's plenty of time for the other things afterwards! hehehe ;)
I guess I should have put this under warnings and dangers really? hahaha.
This was at Covent Garden in the summer of 2001. The guy was all wrapped in clingfilm!... it's weird what some people will do for laughs eh. But we did have fun there. Me and my husband, Chris, were asked to join in, no, not to be wrapped up in clingfilm. We were part of the pretend 'backstage' crew.
There has actually been Street Performers at Covent Garden Market since very early times, and no-one really knows when they first began? But Samuel Pepys recorded seeing Punch & Judy at the Market as early as 1662. Wow,so that's been going even longer than 'Mousetrap'!
Hey, I wonder if this bloke has ever seen the great Australian film 'Bad boy Bubby'? hahaha
The Baron's Court Theatre
I took the advice of a friend and decided to see a play at the Baron's Court Theatre. I have never been to a pub theatre before. It is actually very small and intimate, situated in the cellar, and the play draws your attention even more than usual plays because actors are so close to the audience.
After the play (it was called "The Greatest Love Songs"), you can go upstairs, have a pint of nice beer and even talk to the actors as they come upstairs for a pint too. :-)
A very nice experience indeed! And it was not as expensive as "big" shows, it cost 12 GBP.
The Curtain's Up
28a Comeragh Rd
Directions: Piccadilly/District Line to Barons Court Station then 2 minutes walk down Barons Court Road
What's on the stage
Official London theatre
Online tickets for various events
Online tickets again
My favourite thing about London?? ..finding stuff like this.. This is the work of the Bristol Street Artist Banksy I know graffitti is vandalism... but his work can be seen all over the city in the most unlikely places and I just liked this one! Click the link to see more of his work.
Yesterday (5/3/05) this one was no longer there... washed away by the rain... or the council.
During my wanderings in London and Greater London, I have happened upon an artist a few times.
The photo shows an artist with his easel at Putney Bridge, when I was waiting for a bus. It is not a great photo as I didnt want to make it too obvious I was photographing him!
He was painting the River Thames and there were two barges on the shore too. It was an impressionistic-style painting which I thought was rather good!
Other places I have come across artists have been at The Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park, and once at St James Park, near Buckingham Palace.
Even amidst the harried life of a huge city like this, it is satisfying to know that others find piece within the hustle and bustle and take out their canvas and paintbrush and get creative!
I should take a leaf out of their book...
Galleries and Museums can be very crowded with hundred of school children, particularly at the end of term time, so the best thing is to plan your visit after 2.30pm during the term time.
At other times of the year, visit early in the day and try your very best to avoid the weekends.
The buildings are fascinating to look at, with so much history behind them. And there is an outstanding selection of productions. The half price ticket booths open at Leicester Square and around town after noon on the day of the events assure that the prices are reasonable. Broadway was good, too, but I think this Yank prefers the London stage.
I enjoyed "The Mousetrap" here in 2000--its been playing here for more than 50 years--and "Whistle Down the Wind" which was an Andrew Lloyd Weber production. In 2006, I saw "The Producers" and "Evita" and both of these were terrific too.
One of the things I like about London is the unexpected! You can turn a corner and see something you had no idea was going to be there. In this instance, I was walking past Cleopatra's Needle and saw a Bollywood Film being shot. One Indian Guy who I am still trying to definitely id (any ideas, please let me know) and several European ladies (no doubt swooning at his Indian charm...)
It's worth taking a look at one of my subsequent shots here, they are looking at me like I am dirt, no, I wasn't obstructing filming, I was only taking pictures before and after filming, they just seemed to object to my presence!
Fondest memory: The less than adoring looks I got from the girls!
London is in love with books.
Bookshops abound everywhere, from the large, 5 storied Waterstones, to the small (and slightly dishevelled) backstreet bookshops. I am fond of both, for different reasons.
This particular branch of Waterstones is one well-thumbed by me as I walk past it every day to and fro work and the tube. It happens to be the flagship stor of Waterstones. There are 5 floors and they have every conceivable book in every conceivable theme you could imagine.
Fondest memory: During a lunch hour, its really nice to grab a book and go and sit in their coffee shop, 5th view, reading away. There is no pressure to buy the book, one just has to be very careful when reading it that one spills no coffee over it! haha
They hold quite a few signings here, from Enid Blyton, to Paul McCartney, to Bill Clinton. I am not one to stand in a frozen queue from 4am to get a book personally signed (lol), but have had the good fortune of spotting Bill Clinton as he was walking to the back entrance of the book shop.