Almeida Theatre Facade

Almeida Theatre Facade

Almeida Theatre Interior

Almeida Theatre Interior


The Almeida Theatre, opened in 1980, is a 325-seat studio theatre with an international reputation, which takes its name from the street on which it is located, off Upper Street, in the London Borough of Islington. The theatre produces a diverse range of drama. Successful plays are often transferred to West End theatres.

The theatre was built in 1837 for the newly formed Islington Literary and Scientific Society and included a library, reading room, museum, laboratory, and a lecture theatre seating 500. The architects were the fashionable partnership of Robert Lewis Roumieu and Alexander Dick Gough. The library was sold off in 1872 and the building disposed of in 1874 to the Wellington Club (Almeida Street then being called Wellington Street) which occupied it until 1886. In 1885 the hall was used for concerts, balls, and public meetings. The Salvation Army bought the building in 1890, renaming it the Wellington Castle Barracks (Wellington Castle Citadel from 1902).

To suit the building's new purpose, the front-facing lecture hall's tiered benches were replaced so that the congregation was seated in the conventional position, facing away from the front, and a balcony added. The Salvationists remained there until 1955. For a few years from 1956 the building was a factory and showroom for Beck's British Carnival Novelties, then remained empty until in 1972 a campaign began to turn it into a theatre. The building was Grade II listed by English Heritage in 1972. The current modified building retains the listing.

The campaign to open the building as a theatre was led by the Lebanese-born internationally renowned opera and theatre director Pierre Audi, after he had acquired the derelict building in 1972. A public appeal was launched and in 1980, with the building renovated, the theatre opened with a festival of avant-garde theatre and music, held both there and at other Islington venues, with Audi as the Artistic Director.

Under Audi the theatre's reputation grew and its annual summer International Festival of Contemporary Music and Performance became highly regarded. In the summer of 1985 Ástor Piazzolla, the renowned Argentine tango composer and bandoneón player, made a week-long appearance with his Quinteto Nuevo Tango. Peter Greenaway's 1983 series of films for Channel 4 Four American Composers featured Almeida presentations of works by Robert Ashley, John Cage, and Philip Glass and a Dance Umbrella presentation of Turtle Dreams by Meredith Monk.

The Almeida housed a producing company which commissioned and staged several theatre works and operas and was a London "receiving house" for Fringe, avant-garde and regional theatre productions. Touring companies from the UK were regularly hosted, including Shared Experience, Joint Stock, Theatre Complicite, Cheek by Jowl and the Leicester Haymarket, alongside international guest companies from the Philippines, Tibet, Israel, Ireland and Czechoslovakia.

The Festival included contemporary music and performance presentations from continental Europe, Russia, North America, Japan, Argentina, and Morocco. Among the dozens of stage directors, composers, and ensembles featured were Yuri Lyubimov, Robert Wilson, Robert Lepage, Phelim McDermott, Julia Bardsley, Deborah Warner, Simon McBurney, Annabel Arden, Yvar Mikhashoff, Michael Finnissy, Wolfgang Rihm, Claude Vivier, Gerald Barry, Steve Reich, Lou Harrison, Conlon Nancarrow, Virgil Thomson, Arvo Pärt, Somei Satoh, Akio Suzuki, Takehisa Kosugi, Toru Takemitsu, Jo Kondo, Sylvano Bussotti, Giacinto Scelsi, Alfred Schnittke, Luis de Pablo, Capricorn, Spectrum, Music Projects/London, Singcircle, the Arditti Quartet, and the London Sinfonietta.

Peter Brook's Bouffes du Nord company played there in 1982, and Ronald Harwood's documentary drama, The Deliberate Death of a Polish Priest premiered at the Almeida in October 1985, an early example of a transcript of a trial of the political murderers of Father Jerzy Popiełuszko. In 1987, the Almeida also became home to Motley Theatre Design Course, under the directorship of Margaret Harris. The Not the RSC Festival was presented at the Almeida in 1986 and 1987.

In 1990 the Scot Ian McDiarmid and the South African Jonathan Kent took over as joint artistic directors. Work by major playwrights, old and new, British and foreign was staged and the theatre acquired an artistic reputation comparable to the leading theatres in central London and, as noted by playwright David Hare, "it reinvented the European repertoire for London audiences and made British theatre more cosmopolitan and outward going". Organised as a non-profit producing theatre its productions regularly played to packed houses and frequently transferred to the West End (14 between 1990 and 2002) and to Broadway.

In 1993 the theatre won the Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre. One of the keys to the success and reputation of the Almeida during the 1990s were the stagings of various plays by Harold Pinter. These included revivals of Betrayal in 1991 and No Man's Land in 1992 and premières of Party Time in 1991 and Moonlight in 1993.

During their time at the theatre, McDiarmid and Kent were described by The Guardian as "[making] Islington a centre of enlightened internationalism" and, as they were about to leave their positions in 2002, Michael Billington, in the same newspaper, summed up their achievements as threefold: "Three things have made the Almeida the most exciting theatre in Britain. First, an eclectically international programme: everything from Molière and Marivaux to Brecht and Neil LaBute. Second, top-level casting that has given us Ralph Fiennes in Hamlet and Ivanov, Kevin Spacey in The Iceman Cometh and Juliette Binoche in Naked. Third, a territorial expansion that has seen the Almeida colonise the Hackney Empire, the old Gainsborough film studios and even a converted bus depot in King's Cross".

In November 1999, the Almeida was awarded £1.5 million by the Arts Council of England to undertake essential repairs to the theatre. The work began early in 2001 when the theatre was closed, and the company moved temporarily to a converted bus station at King's Cross. National Lottery backing of £5.8 million allowed for a complete restoration. The restoration included rebuilding and extending the foyer, installing more comfortable seating and access, plus better backstage facilities with the stage area re-built for flexibility and strength, the roof improved and insulated, the lighting grid strengthened, complete re-wiring, and technical equipment updated.

Michael Attenborough took over as artistic director in 2002 and, following the completion of its restoration, the theatre was re-opened in May 2003 with a production of Ibsen's The Lady from the Sea, directed by Trevor Nunn. The theatre's artistic remit was the presentation of bold and adventurous play choices staged to the highest possible standards, in productions which revealed them in a new light. This included classics from the British, American and Irish repertoire, foreign classics in newly commissioned versions, and new plays. In October 2012 Attenborough announced that he would step down early in 2013.

Rupert Goold was appointed Artistic Director in February 2013, taking up the post full-time in September 2013. His association with the Almeida Theatre Company began in 2008 when he directed Stephen Adly Guirgis' The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. In 2013 his Headlong theatre company co-produced the premiere of Lucy Kirkwood's Chimerica, directed by Lyndsey Turner, at the Almeida: the show subsequently transferred to the West End, winning five Olivier Awards in 2014. Goold's first Almeida production as full-time artistic director was the world premiere production of American Psycho: A new musical thriller (initially programmed by Michael Attenborough), which ran from 3 December 2013 to 1 February 2014. In 2014 he directed the premiere of Mike Bartlett's play King Charles III, which, following its sold-out run at the Almeida, transferred to Wyndham's Theatre and Broadway. The current production is The Twilight Zone based on stories by Rod Serling, Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson, adapted by Anne Washburn, directed by Richard Jones, with Mary Stuart and the Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke to come.

Customers who are claiming Jobseekers Allowance and students can book second-price-band tickets for £25 on Monday - Thursday evenings & Wednesday & Saturday matinees. Over 65s can book second price-band tickets for £25 on Monday - Thursday evenings and selected Wednesday & Saturday matinees. Customers aged 30 or under can book second-price-band tickets for £15 on Monday - Thursday evenings & Wednesday & Saturday matinees. Companions of Deaf and disabled patrons can buy tickets for £25 for all performances. If you live or work in the Islington area you can book best available seats for just £25 for the opening performances of each production. To book online enter the discount code ISFIRST. Proof of address will be required when collecting the tickets.

Assistance dogs are welcome in the auditorium, please request an aisle seat when you book. Alternatively, their staff are happy to dog-sit for you. Audio Description gives information on the visual elements of a production. The description is delivered live, in-between dialogue and picked up through headsets, giving access to audiences with sight-loss. An audio introduction CD is sent out in advance, and a Touch Tour before the performance allows the audience to explore the set and costumes and meet the cast. Large Print and audio brochures are available. For more details on visiting the Almeida please listen to their venue access guide. Listen: Autumn/Winter 2017/18 Season information, October 2017 - April 2018.

There is an induction loop in the box office for hearing aid users. There is an infrared hearing system in the main auditorium, please collect headsets from the kiosk in the theatre foyer. A caption unit displays the actors' words as they are spoken or sung, and provides information such as sound effects and music. Captioning can also be useful for people who speak English as a second language, when strong accents are used by actors. Captioned performances are available throughout the year.

A Relaxed Performance is specifically designed to welcome people who will benefit from a more relaxed performance environment, including people with an Autism Spectrum Condition, sensory and communication disorders, or a learning disability. People have the freedom to come and go as necessary and a chill-out area is provided for those who need a quiet space. There is a relaxed attitude to noise and movement and some small changes made to light and sound effects.

There is a sliding glass door to the left of the main entrance which is operated by a push button on the wall to the left. To the right of this, there are two glass doors which can be pushed open. As you enter the theatre, the bar is immediately to the left and the Box Office is to the right. Next to the Box Office is a ramp which provides access to the toilets and auditorium.

Access to the Stalls (209 seats) is by 6 steps or sloped walkway. Access to the Circle (112 seats) is via 2 stairways of 27 steps each, both are fitted with handrails on either side. Unfortunately we do not have a lift to circle seats. The first 3 rows in the central block and the first 2 rows in the side blocks of the stalls have level access (A C).

The ramp is in two sections. The first section has a 13:1 gradient. The second section has a 17:1 gradient. The accessible toilet can be accessed via the first section. Alternatively, there are 6 steps into the auditorium, which are divided into 2 sections. The first section has two steps. Turning left, four more steps take you to the door of the auditorium on your right. They do not have a lift. The toilets are situated at the back of the foyer (to the left) and can be accessed via the ramp or steps. There is one accessible toilet for the priority of disabled patrons. In addition, there are handles in each of the end cubicles in the ladies, the cubicle farthest from the door is wider and the door opens outward.

A section of the bar counter is low level (0.9m). Access needs have been taken into account with the provision of all glassware, crockery and cutlery. Hearing dogs and guide dogs are welcome. Disabled customers may use the Box Office phone to arrange a pick up or call a taxi, or alternatively may ask a member of staff to do this.

For all Almeida main house productions there are two wheelchair spaces available for every performance. These are located in the central stalls at the end of the front row and row C. Please be aware that auditorium seating can change considerably, depending on the production and so locations may vary. For the latest information on auditorium seating configurations and bookings please contact Box Office on 020 7359 4404 or

The theatre can store a maximum of three wheelchairs for those patrons able to transfer. There are several end of row seats with level access in the front and central stalls area, that are appropriate to transfer into. Patrons are expected to transfer to a seat without assistance from staff, either by themselves or via their companion. The Almeida is a grade II listed building and does not have a lift to seating in the circle.


Location : Almeida Theatre, Almeida Street, London N1 1TA

Transport: Essex Road (National Rail) then 12 minutes. Highbury + Islington (Overground, Victoria Line) or Angel (Northern Line). London Buses routes 4, 19, 30 and 43 stop closeby.

Seating Plan

Access Booking Office : 020 7359 4404

Tel: 020 7359 4404