What you need to know about Royal Court Theatre:
Two performance spaces make up Royal Court Theatre. The Jerwood Theatre Downstairs has around 370 seats and the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs has around 90 seats. There has been a theatre on the site since 1870. Its name was originally The New Chelsea Theatre.
The story of Royal Court Theatre as we know it begins in 1956 when the English Stage Company took it over. This kick started an era of challenging, modern programming that championed new writers and regularly got the theatre in trouble with official censors of the stage.
It has remained a writers’ theatre and works with many of the most exciting names of contemporary theatre. It would be easy to argue that Royal Court Theatre is the most important theatre in London. Wherever your loyalties are, it’s certainly hugely influential. Announcements of new seasons of work spark massive excitement with theatre fans and those working in the industry. It has a reputation for embracing work that takes the temperature of the current political climate in the UK and the wider world. It also programmes shows that can be confrontational to watch. But it’s not all about shock tactics, by any means. Royal Court Theatre dedicates itself to helping the best new writers develop, and puts on works very different in tone to one another.
Vicky Featherstone is the current Artistic Director.
Top facts about Royal Court Theatre:
- Famous writers that Royal Court Theatre has worked with include John Osborne, Samuel Beckett and David Hare. More recently, Caryl Churchill, Mark Ravenhill, debbie tucker green, Lucy Kirkwood and Nick Payne have premiered work at the venue.
- Despite its posh Sloane Square address, Royal Court Theatre was a health and safety nightmare by the 1990s. They secured funding to complete massive renovations (and bring it up-to-date with accessibility requirements) from 1996 onwards. It reopened in its shiny new state in 2000.
- While Royal Court Theatre was closed for rebuilding, it found two new temporary homes. The Theatre Downstairs temporarily moved to Duke of York’s Theatre and the Theatre Upstairs moved to the Ambassadors Theatre.
Key information about Royal Court Theatre:
Tube: Royal Court Theatre is next to Sloane Square tube station (District & Circle lines), making this a very convenient way to travel to and from the theatre.
Train: Victoria Station is just a short walk away.
Buses: Bus numbers: 19, 22, 319, C1, N19 and N22 all stop near Sloane Square station. To plan your journey in more detail, please visit the Transport for London website.
Parking: There is limited parking close to the Royal Court. However, there are some Pay & Display bays in the streets surrounding the Royal Court. On Sloane Square, there is one Blue Badge spot, opposite number 149. Alternately, badge holders can use Pay & Display bays and get an extra hour for free. You can find more details of parking on the Royal Court’s website.
Royal Court Theatre is well equipped for wheelchair users. This is includes lifts to all levels, theatre spaces and the café. There are also accessible toilets that have been adapted for easier use. The lift is operated by low level illuminated controls and tactile aids, and is fitted with voice commentary.
There are spaces for wheelchairs in both theatres. You can book these directly with the theatre. Likewise, if you would like to borrow the wheelchair that the theatre owns, this can be arranged.
The Jerwood Downstairs has an induction loop for hearing aid users. For use in conjunction with this or for the Jerwood Upstairs, there are also Sennheiser ‘necklaces’ available at the cloakroom. Additionally, the box office has a portable hearing loop available, which can be borrowed if you contact them first. Finally, there is also an infra-red Sennheiser system which can be used in both theatre spaces. This allows the user to access audio description.
Working dogs are welcome at the theatre. You can arrange in advance to have an aisle seat and bring the dog into the theatre, or for a friendly member of staff to look after the dog during the performance.
You can find details of sight aids and a list of audio tracks with detailed information about visiting the Royal Court on the theatre’s website.
Visitors to the theatre with access requirements can purchase tickets at a discounted rate for themselves and an accompanying friend or carer.
Royal Court Theatre schedules captioned and audio described performances for the majority of its shows. You can find details on the website. Before audio described performances the Royal Court also runs touch tours. These normally take place 1 hour and 30 minutes before the performance and you can book directly with the theatre. Royal Court Theatre also provides cast lists in large print and in Braille for all Jerwood Downstairs productions. If you would like to join a mailing list to get sent details of these performances, email [email protected]
Royal Court Theatre has its own Bar & Kitchen. It offers light lunches, cakes and coffee or proper meals including burgers and a dessert menu. They also serve cocktails and a selection of wines and beers, along with a lot of soft drink options. For little pre-theatre nibbles, there’s olives, nuts and popcorn.