Tuesday 30 January 2018

Little bit of info Deptford Theatre

1840 Opened
1857 Closed
1868? Demolished

In 1840 an existing building in Church Street, Deptford was converted into a theatre. Its original seating capacity was 900, and it opened with the rather imposing name, the Royal Deptford Theatre. This use of the word “Royal” was

completely without authority, and after official protests the“Royal” was dropped. The theatre was also known as the“one-sided theatre”, Built alongside the Deptford Creek,the site was too narrow to allow for a range of boxes on both sides, so the ones on stage left took the form of images painted on the wall! At various earlier times the premises had been used as a school, a arehouse and a chapel before being used fortheatrical purposes. It opened under the management of a Mr Laws and survived under his control for some tenyears before it changed hands. The new owner, a Mr J.C.Neville, was not so lucky. Within four years he wasbankrupt and the theatre closed. Any plans to revive it came to an end when the nearby Carlton Theatre (see Greenwich Theatre) opened as a replacement in 1864. After it closed it became derelict and was mostly demolished. Part of the structure was retained when a new
storage facility was built, and the site was renamed Theatre Wharf.


John Townsend said...

There was a theatre next to the creek at Deptford before 1840, and there are playbills for the 1820s and 1830s for Deptford Theatre at Lewisham Local Studies Library and the British Library.

Howard Staunton, the famous chessplayer and Shakespeare scholar, is said to have been an actor when he was young and to have played the part once of Lorenzo to Edmund Kean's Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice". One of his friends recorded in his diary that the venue was the small theatre at Deptford.

In fact, a performance of "The Merchant of Venice" with Kean as Shylock did take place at Deptford on Saturday, 12 March 1831. Unfortunately, I have not so far managed to locate a copy of the playbill which would enable me to check who played Lorenzo.

Andy said...

Very interesting John.