Situated in a convenient and central location in Great Newport Sytreet, the Arts Theatre operates as the West End's smallest commercial receiving house seating 350 people in a two-tier basement auditorium.
When the venue first opened to the public on 20th April 1927 it operated as a members-only club for the performance of unlicensed plays to avoid theatre censorship by the Lord Chamberlain's Office. It was one of a number of committed, independent theatre companies at the time that produced a diverse range of new and experimental plays that were thought to be commercially non-viable to be staged in regular west-end venues.
The first production at the Arts Theatre was 'Picnic', which was a revue by Herbert Farjeon, however, its first production of note was 'Young Woodley' which was staged in 1928, and later transferred to the Savoy Theatre when the Lord Chamberlain's ban was finally lifted.
In 1938 a four-week revival of the Stokes brothers 'Oscar Wilde' starring Francis L. Sullivan opened which coincided with a Broadway production of the play. In 1942 the running of the theatre was taken over by Alec Clunes and John Hanau who produced a wide range of plays over the next decade winning a reputation as a 'pocket national theatre.'
Peter Hall aged just 24, directed the English language premiere of Samuel Beckett's 'Waiting For Godot' in August 1955 at the theatre which is seen as an important turning point in modern theatre in the UK. Subsequently, Hall actually ran the theatre from 1956 to 1959.
From 1962 until 1967 the theatre was known as the 'New Arts Theatre', and from 1967 to 1999, the Arts also became a home for The Unicorn Children's Theatre who took over the lease. Adult performances continued in the evenings during this time, including a notable production of Tom Stoppard's satirical double-bill, 'Dirty Linen' and 'Newfoundland' which ran at the venue for four years.
A consortium of UK and US producers took over the lease of the venue in 2000 for a five-year period and relaunched it as a west-end theatre where it has showcased several hit production including SIX - The Musical before it eventually moved to its new and larger home at the Vaudeville Theatre
How Can I Book Cheap Tickets To The Arts Theatre?
Although there are several different price bands starting from around £25, actually finding cheap tickets can be a little bit of a mission due to the small size of the Arts Theatre. In a nutshell, the show can sometimes be too big for this venue and therefore discounts are pretty much unheard of due to the excessive demand so booking as far in advance as possible is highly recommended to secure as much value as possible.
Where Is The Best Section Of The Theatre To Book Tickets To The Arts Theatre?
There are just two levels in the auditorium – the stalls on the ground floor with a direct and straight view of the stage and the circle on the first floor looking down. The theatre is very intimate and there are not many seats that feature any restrictions to the view of the stage so it will fall very much down to personal preference as to which section of the theatre is best to book tickets. All patrons are close to the action and although the circle overhangs the stalls section from row E onwards there are no major issues to speak of regarding the view of the stage. Seating in the circle section is very lightly raked and doesn't offer quite as much legroom as seats in the stalls so taller patrons may prefer the stalls. It is always advisable to study the seating plan of the venue prior to booking to ensure full transparency over your purchase.
How Can I Buy Lastminute Tickets To The Arts Theatre?
Sometimes, due to market forces and the sheer demand for tickets to the show coupled with the small and intimate venue that is staged in it is unlikely that there will be any official discounted tickets available. The only way to obtain tickets at a discount therefore would be if agents have booked tickets upfront and are left with some liability stock that they need to offload. This is unlikely to happen often and to pick tickets up in this way really would be down to more luck than judgement and being in the right place at the right time - meaning turning up at around 30 minutes prior to curtain in the official retail outlets in and around Leicester Square. It should be stressed that this is not a strategy to be recommended if you need to see the show on a specific date and cannot be relied on for success.
Seating PlanArts Theatre Seating Plan
Address6-7 Great Newport Street, London, WC2H 7JB
Directions from nearest tube
(2mins) Take Cranbourn Street away from Leicester Square up to Great Newport Street on your left, where you can see the theatre.
(Charing Cross Road) 24, 29, 176; (Strand) 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 23, 87, 91, 139
Night Bus Numbers
(Charing Cross Road) 24, 176, N5, N20, N29, N41, N279; (Strand) 6, 23, 139, N9, N15, N11, N13, N21, N26, N44, N47, N87, N89, N91, N155, N343, N551
Chinatown (3 mins)
Within Congestion Zone