Unique venues for something completely different
London is well known to international audiences for it’s booming theatre and entertainment industry - catching a West End performance is on everybody’s to do list when visiting. However, what is generally known only scratches the surface of the long list of compelling activities and events to attend and see.
North Finchley is home to the artsdepot: a hub of cultural activity. The space is free to enter and open to the public and contains 2 theatres, a gallery, cafe, bars and dance studios. All year round there are various performances happening here, they have theatre and dance performances, art exhibitions and they even offer activities and programmes for children to get involved in.
As well as being a communal space, artsDdepot is home to London Studio Centre (one of London’s top performing arts schools) so the studios are often filled with students rehearsing, they also put on several performances a year so be sure to catch one of their shows. A student of LSC said ‘We often find ourselves staying after our classes are over at the end of the day to enjoy the events. There is always something going on - the place has such a good atmosphere.’ Tickets to performances are very reasonable with prices for children starting at just £8. It is worth visiting the venue even if it’s just to enjoy a lunch in their lovely cafe.
Backyard Cinema is not your average cinema: this cinematic experience will transport you in to a different world entirely. Every month, the company chooses a theme for the films they are going to display and transforms the venue accordingly with sets, lighting, live music and sometimes even actors. Dominic, the founder says ‘It started as a home project and has now expanded in a way we could never imagine. Bringing cinema to life, we wanted to create an alternative cinema experience for everyone to enjoy, and contribute to the long list of things that makes London special!’ November’s and December’s chosen theme is Winter Night Garden, where they showed wintery themed films such as Frozen and several Christmas classics. They also ignore the idea of traditional cinema seating and instead, you can snuggle down on a comfortable bean bag. Backyard Cinema events take place in various places across London; currently finding a home in Elephant & Castle in a converted warehouse called Mercato Metropolitan. It is also jam packed with a variety of food and drink stalls, so get there early before your film to enjoy a drink and a bite to eat. Tickets starts at £12.35 for Matinee and £16.50 for an evening performance but with options to upgrade to packages that include drinks and blankets. Alternatively you can hire blankets separately for £1 on arrival.
Charing Cross Theatre - Under The Arches
One of London’s hidden gems, sitting right underneath Charing Cross Station is the Theatre Under The Arches. Standing since 1864, you will be transported back a century as the building has kept it’s original design and rustic charm. Even though it is in Central London it is what is known as an ‘Off West End’ theatre. The aim of this is to create affordable theatre and entertainment that’s accessible for everyone to enjoy but also create a collaborative space where professionals can nurture and work with emerging, fresh young talent. ‘I’ve been to several London productions’ One theatre go-er said ‘and the standard of this performance was probably one of the best I’ve seen! The actors filled the room and the singing just sent shivers down my spine!’. Much like ArtsDepot they have a huge range of productions available
Underground hotspots seem to be a common thing, much like at Charing Cross, across the river, Waterloo Station has it’s own block of spaces called The Vaults. However, performances here stray from the normal, traditional theatre and instead stick to the weird and wonderful.
The venue, much better suited to adults and late night entertainment, offers productions from a large number of artists that have collaborated to create different and immersive theatre experiences. Most performances will be 16 or 18+ and ticket prices range from £20-£40, depending on the performance. Keep an eye out for the much anticipated return of Alice’s Adventures Underground coming in 2017.
The above venues are all places that should not be missed when visiting London . This is an opportunity to discover relatively unknown entertainment venues (at least by the visitor) and try something a little different on your next trip to London. With plenty of options there is bound to be a performance or two that fits in perfectly with your time frame - all at affordable rates – and a chance to immerse yourself in London’s hidden culture.