The Bush Theatre is sent nearly 2000 new plays a year.
And every single one is read cover to cover in consideration for production at this intimate West London venue, a theatre that’s been championing new writing since its inception in 1972.
Starting out above a pub on Shepherd’s Bush Green, the Bush Theatre now resides in a beautifully renovated Victorian library, a stone’s throw away at the top of Uxbridge Road. Wrapping around the stately red brick walls is a new glass extension, with concertina doors that can be pulled back in summer to create a charming festoon-lit terrace, perfect for a pre-show drink.
Currently helmed by artistic director Lynette Linton (previous hands on the reins have included Dominic Dromgoole and Josie Rourke), the Bush prides itself on reflecting the local community on its two stages, and representing unheard voices. So while it’s premiered new plays by the likes of Jack Thorne, James Graham, and Arinzé Kene, it’s also launched the careers of dozens of emerging playwrights through its Writers’ Group programme.
All of which is to say… if you’re in the mood for some exciting new theatre that breaks the mould, this is where to find it.
Fittingly for its past life, the Bush Theatre also houses the largest public play library in London – a vast wall of playtexts that’s a godsend for any drama student, and that you’re free to flick through over a Caravan-roasted coffee. The café-bar area is open from 5pm and makes for a great place to get a bit of work done, with light streaming in through the arched windows and eclectic vintage furniture scattered around the space. Come the evening, the place is buzzy with locals and theatregoers – the bar staff even create a bespoke cocktail for each play.
Highlights for 2023 include August in England, Lenny Henry’s playwriting debut (starring the man himself) set amidst the Windrush scandal; and the return of Invisible, the critically acclaimed debut by former Bush writers’ group member Nikhil Parmar, ahead of its New York transfer.
Given the theatre’s intimate layout (the performance spaces have capacities of 180 and 70 people), and the critical acclaim which meets most productions here, tickets can sell like hot cakes.
So don’t beat around the Bush…
NOTE: The Bush Theatre’s productions run Monday – Saturday, with the bar open from 5pm on those days. To see what’s on, and book tickets, head HERE.
Bush Theatre | 7 Uxbridge Road, London, W12 8LJ
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