Royal Court in pounds 3m name deal

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The Independent Online
SIR PETER Hall yesterday criticised a deal by which a private company will have its name in lights outside one of the country's most historic venues, the Royal Court Theatre in London.

The Jerwood Foundation will give the publicly subsidised theatre the final pounds 3m needed to complete its pounds 26m rebuilding costs and will have its name illuminated outside the Sloane Square theatre, and, according to reports last night, the right to read scripts.

Alan Grieve, the foundation chairman, was quoted denying that this constituted a veto. "It is more a question of suggesting where more work is needed. We ask to see scripts occasionally. I see no reason why this should upset writers."

Sir Peter, former director of the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company, said: "The Royal Court isn't the Jerwood theatre. It has 100 years of history and Jerwood are buying those 100 years for pounds 3m." The playwright Harold Pinter said he found the decision "confusing".

The foundation had originally wanted the Royal Court to change its name to the Jerwood Theatre but after an outcry a compromise was reached. The agreement means the theatre's two auditoria will be called Jerwood Theatre Downstairs and Jerwood Theatre Upstairs.

Outside, the original stone and ironwork on the facade will still read Royal Court Theatre, but a neon sign above the main entrance will highlight the Jerwood Foundation's support with the wording "The Jerwood Theatres at the Royal Court Theatre". The theatre chairman, Sir John Mortimer, said: "We can provide a rebuilt and hugely improved theatre for new writing."

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