The company, a registered charity, was founded in 1969 by Verity Bargate, a theatre director and playwright, and her husband, Fred Proud, a theatre producer, as an organisation committed to the production and encouragement of new plays. It first found a home in a small basement, leased for the Polytechnic of Central London, in Soho: known then as the Soho Poly, it launched a gruelling series of fortnightly lunchtime productions which continued throughout the 1970s. Premieres of works by Caryl Churchill, David Edgar, Pam Gems and Timberlake Wertenbaker were all staged during this time. In 1981, Verity Bargate died and in her memory an annual award, a national playwriting competition, was created: the prize includes a full professional production for the winner. Kindertransport was last year's winner.
The company, which switched to evening productions in the early 1980s, outgrew the cramped Soho Poly - its seating capacity was limited to 50 and no actor over 6ft tall could be employed - and moved to the Cockpit Theatre, in Marylebone, last year. With seating for 240, a large workshop and office space, it has staged two premieres, Water Music by Lyndon Morgans, and The Rock Station by Ger FitzGibbon, which is going on regional tour. While the company receives most of its income from the Arts Council and local authority grants, it needs to raise pounds 20,000 to encourage new writers and a further pounds 100,000 so that it can convert a large room into a studio theatre to stage more new plays. For further information, contact: Mark Godfrey, The Soho Theatre Company, Cockpit Theatre, Freepost (NW5747), London NW8 6YP, telephone 071-262 7907.
(Photograph omitted)Reuse content