With the curtain about to rise on World Theatre Day on 27 March, we’d like to share some of our team’s favourite venues, many of which we’ve worked in. Steeldeck has deep ties to the sector, with many of our team members having gotten their start in set design, stage management and project management in theatres. Together they bring serious know-how and behind-the-scenes knowledge of what’s needed to ensure that the show goes on. 

Steeldeck’s work – for clients including the National Theatre, Shaftesbury Theatre and many theatres around the UK – includes everything from stage extensions, camera platforms and custom-made auditoria to tricky jobs infilling seating for corporate events, creating temporary entrances and structures. We also work with schools to set up staging and seating to support the next generation of award-winning British actors, set designers and technicians. We have extensive experience of working on complex sites, including listed heritage buildings, and of tailoring precise, innovative, and practical solutions for every project. 

Theatre is one of our first loves, so every job is a joy, so here are ten of Steeldeck’s favourite venues, in no particular order. 

1. The Royal Court 

Located on leafy Sloane Square in southwest London, the Grade II-listed Royal Court is known for staging exciting new works by emerging playwrights. The original theatre opened in 1870 on Lower George Street, just off the square, and was demolished a mere 17 years later. Today’s building was built in 1888 and fully refurbished in 1990 to house two performance spaces – the 380-seat Jerwood Theatre Downstairs and the 85-seat Jerwood Theatre Upstairs. For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy opens downstairs on 31 March, with two Palestinians go dogging playing Upstairs from 6 March. Starting on World Theatre Day, audiences can stream the film seven methods of killing kylie jenner until 17 April. 

2. Royal Exchange Theatre 

Manchester’s imposing Royal Exchange takes up a full city block in the city centre on a site formerly used as a textile and cotton exchange. The Grade II-listed building, built in 1874, is the third exchange to occupy the site since the first one opened in 1729. After suffering extensive damage in the Manchester Blitz and 1996 IRA bombing, today it houses the Royal Exchange Theatre. This unique venue, located in the Grand Hall, is enclosed in a seven-sided, 150-ton steel and glass module that seats up to 800 on three levels, two of which are suspended from the four columns supporting the hall’s dome. Nora: A Doll’s House runs until 2 April, with Electric Rosary and Red Velvet beginning 23 April and 27 May. 

3. The Young Vic 

This forward-thinking venue in London’s Waterloo boasts a line-up of culturally diverse pieces. 

In 1970 the theatre was established with a mission to – in the words of Laurence Olivier – “develop plays for young audiences, an experimental workshop for authors, actors and producers.” The main auditorium features a thrust stage surrounded on three sides by flexible auditorium seating that can accommodate around 420 people. A 2006 refurbishment added two theatre spaces, the Maria and the Clare, which seat 150 and 70, respectively. Current and upcoming shows include the world premiere of The Collaboration, about a 1984 exhibition by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, which runs until 2 April, and a reimagined Oklahoma!, which opens on 26 April.  

4. Liverpool Everyman

Another modern theatre, the Liverpool Everyman was founded in 1964 in Hope Hall, which enjoyed previous incarnations as both a chapel and a cinema. The theatre sits at the northern end of Hope Street, once a bohemian hotspot and now a hipster haven, and has a reputation for cutting-edge productions. In 2011–2014 the theatre underwent a complete refurbishment – including reusing bricks from the former Hope Hall – that won the coveted Stirling Prize from the Royal Institute of British Architects. The new building features a main auditorium with an adaptable thrust stage and 400 seats, and a smaller performance space. The world premiere of Corrina, Corrina by Liverpool-based playwright Chloe Moss runs from 17 May to 4 June. 

5. Theatr Clwyd

Forty-five minutes south of the Everyman is Theatr Clywd, in the charming Welsh market town of Mold on the River Alyn. A regional cultural beacon and Wales’s biggest producing house, the theatre comprises five auditoria, ranging from the smaller 120-seat Studio 2 to the 570-seat Anthony Hopkins Theatre, and puts on a wide selection of performances which have launched the careers of the likes of Vanessa Redgrave and Timothy Dalton. In 2023 the sprawling red brick complex is due to undergo a major redevelopment, during which time the theatre will continue to run a full programme from a temporary adjacent site. Current and upcoming highlights include Catch Me If You Can, As You Like It and Blood Brothers. 

6. Roundhouse 

Fifty years ago a former railway engine shed in Camden, north London, was transformed into what is now a Grade II*-listed, world-leading performing arts centre. Opened with a party featuring a little-known band called Pink Floyd, the Roundhouse sought to create “art for all” with boundary-pushing performances until 1983, when it closed due to financial difficulty. In the ‘90s the derelict space was used by artists, filmmakers and ravers, until the Roundhouse was revived in 2006 by Torquil Norman, the inventor of Polly Pocket. Today the centre hosts an array of music, theatre, circus and spoken word for audiences between 1,700 (seated) and 3,300 (standing), including upcoming headline gigs such as Celeste, Lorde, Crowded House and Interpol. 

7. Leeds Playhouse 

A neon sculpture with the immortal lyric of chart-topping anthem Tubthumping – “I get knocked down, but I get up again” – marks your arrival at the Leeds Playhouse. The theatre opened in 1990 as the West Yorkshire Playhouse, successor to the original Leeds Playhouse, but rebranded in 2018 to reflect its lineage. A respected producing theatre, the Playhouse puts on a range of works from classical dramas to contemporary European works, with an emphasis on emerging writers from the north of England. The building includes three performance spaces: the Quarry Theatre (750 seats), the Courtyard Theatre (350 seats), and the Bramall Rock Void studio space (130 seats). Hedwig and the Angry Inch opens on 2 April, followed by Maggie May on 7 May. 

8. Edinburgh Festival

Now in its 75th year, the Edinburgh International Festival is without equal in the arts world. 

Before the pandemic the Fringe, as it’s also known, was surpassed only by the Olympics and World Cup in terms of visitor numbers. In normal years the Festival boasts over 50,000 performances of over 3,500 shows performed in 300+ venues, from hole-in-the-wall pubs and the Edinburgh Ski Club to the Traverse Theatre and the Scottish National Gallery. The range on offer is deliriously diverse and visiting at least once in your lifetime should be on everyone’s bucket list. Past performers include Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Graham Norton, Emma Thomson and Robin Williams, among countless other household names. The 2022 program is released on 30 March. 

 

9. Kiln Theatre 

Voted ‘Best London Theatre’ at the 2021 Stage Awards, the Kiln Theatre was first established as the Tricycle Theatre in 1980, in Kilburn in northwest London, as a permanent home for the touring Wakefield Tricycle Company. Since then the theatre has championed new writing and political and culturally diverse works, producing original pieces by playwrights such as Lynn Nottage, Abi Morgan, Simon Stephens and Florian Zeller. In 1998 a 300-seat cinema was added to the complex, while a 2018 refurbishment introduced a new flexible stage and increased accessibility and capacity in the auditorium, with 292 individual seats. Girl on an Altar by Marina Carr runs from 19 May to 25 July. 

 

10. Hull Truck Theatre 

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Hull Truck Theatre was established in 1971 and began by producing and touring children’s shows, as well as pieces for working men’s clubs and cabarets. Music was at the heart of the works, an approach founder Mike Bradwell described as “provocative and challenging, but above all, entertaining.” In 1984 John Godber became artistic director, whose plays include Up ‘n’ Under and Bouncers, one of the theatre’s most popular and performed pieces. By 2009 a newly completed, 440-seat theatre on Ferensway was Hull Truck’s new home, and opened with Godber’s play Funny Turns. Upcoming shows include Singin’ in the Rain (13–16 April) and Teechers Leavers ‘22, another Godber classic to ring in 50 years. 

 

To find out more about our staging and seating hire and what we can create for your theatre event, get in touch at rentals@steeldeck.co.uk.