The future's bright – the future's Orange
PUBLISHED: 18:43 09 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:52 20 February 2013
On New Year's Eve the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond turned 40, making artistic director Sam Walters the longest-serving in the country, having directed the first performance of Go Tell It On Table Mountain on December 31, 1971.
On New Years Eve the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond turned 40, making artistic director Sam Walters the longest-serving in the country, having directed the first performance of Go Tell It On Table Mountain on December 31, 1971.
Until 1991, the theatre was situated above the Orange Tree pub, before moving across the road into the purpose-built building it still occupies today Londons only permanent in-the-round space.
Over the past 40 years, the intimate 172-seat theatre has produced a succession of new, neglected and re-discovered work from the UK and abroad, including 12 plays by the late Vaclav Havel a collaborative relationship which would go on to span 30 years after Walters fortuitously programmed Audience and Private View by Havel in 1977, just as Charter 77 burst forth upon the political scene.
The 2008 production of Havels Leaving was a particular highlight for the theatre the first that Havel saw himself.
The theatre has also run a successful trainee director scheme since 1986. Many notable past and current artistic directors have passed through the Orange Trees hands, including Anthony Clark, Sean Holmes, Dominic Hill, Rachel Kavanaugh, Timothy Sheader and Ellie Jones.
The New Years Eve celebrations saw a special birthday performance of The Charity That Began At Home, directed by Auriol Smith.
After the performance, Sam Walters gave a brief speech to the full house and also commented on how he had worked out that the evenings audience had paid 160 times more for their ticket than those at the very first performance 40 years ago had paid
Afterwards, the company enjoyed a celebratory toast with the audience in the bar, and also shared a specially-made birthday cake which was kindly donated by a long-standing volunteer to the theatre.