THEATRE

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The Independent Culture
It comes as something of a shock to discover that the Soho Theatre Company is to be made homeless. It left the Soho Poly in Riding House Street and, with director Abigail Morris (right) at the helm, took up residence at the somewhat moribund Cockp it Theatre in September 1992. It has managed the venue on behalf of its owner, City of Westminster College, which needed the space as an educational resource but was happy to see it run as a professional theatre.

Ever since it took over, the venue has gone from strength to strength. Audiences have grown in both number and diversity, and awards and box-office successes are mounting up. Last year's Kindertransport went on to New York and is scheduled to open in theWest End, starring Jane Lapotaire. Now comes the news that Westminster is holding firm to a decision taken six months ago to evict the company in July, as it wants to expand the venue's usage as an educational resource due to increased student intake.

It may have a problem. The Theatres Trust has written to Westminster Council, a noted supporter (and funder) of the venue, pointing out that the building is licensed as a theatre, not an educational establishment. Westminster's response is eagerly awaited. Regardless of the company's proven worth, London can ill afford to lose one of its more versatile spaces. Either the college must back down and renegotiate a fair contract or someone will have to step in and rehouse this valuable theatrical asset.

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