The Questors Theatre Honours Dame Judi Dench
Renames the landmark building to celebrate its 50th birthday
Dame Judi Dench says she is delighted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a landmark theatre building by agreeing that it be renamed the Judi Dench Playhouse. The theatre is located at The Questors Theatre in Ealing, West London, of which she is the President.
The Questors is one of the UK's largest non-professional theatre companies, founded in 1929. It is holding a gala celebration on Saturday 18 October to mark their Playhouse's 50th anniversary year and to inaugurate its new name.
The Playhouse at The Questors Theatre opened in 1964 with a production of Ibsen's Brand in the presence of HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. The theatre building is regarded as the first purpose-built theatre to be designed in Britain after the Second World War.
During construction in 1963- Image Robert Vass
It put into practice innovative ideas for staging with which The Questors had been experimenting. The Playhouse set a new benchmark for flexible staging by adventurously breaking the old 'picture frame' theatre format with a bold amphitheatre shape. The project was acclaimed by Alec Guinness at the time as "the most exciting theatrical venture to be launched in this country".
Over 600 productions have since been staged in the Playhouse which, depending on configuration, seats between 300 and 400.
Dame Judi, who next year will be celebrating 30 years as President of The Questors, said today: "The Questors' theatre building is a landmark of theatre architecture, built by this remarkable company. I send congratulations to you all for the Golden Jubilee celebrations and on the continued success of the company. I am absolutely thrilled and very flattered to add my name in celebration of this achievement, and I have very fond memories of the recitals that Michael and I were invited to perform there."
Richard Mead, Chairman of The Questors said today: “We're deeply honoured that Dame Judi has agreed to allow us to rename the Playhouse on its 50th anniversary. Dame Judi has always striven for excellence in her career, as do we at The Questors.”
Exterior of the theatre- Image; The Questors
Michael Langridge, who is directing the celebration, and was in the opening production of Brand, said today: "The gala evening on 18 October will feature scenes from memorable Questors productions over the last 50 years, and feature a number of writers with strong associations with the company. These include Peter Whelan, a long-standing member of the theatre who sadly died earlier this year, Michael Green, the well-known humourist behind 'Coarse Acting', and James Saunders, who premiered Next Time I'll Sing to You at The Questors Theatre."
Amongst other highlights will be a scene from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard. As a young man Stoppard directed an early version of this play with The Questors in 1964, when it was still in development.
Tickets for the gala evening are priced at £20 and are available from questors.org.uk.
October 3, 2014