The Almeida Theatre began its life as a scientific and literary society housing a laboratory, library, and 500-person lecture theatre. Today, it hosts high-quality shows and has a global reputation with its production of a wide variety of drama.
Located in Islington, North London, the production house takes its name from the street where it is situated. Seating is split over two levels, the Stalls on the ground floor and the Circle upstairs, both offering abundant legroom.
The blend of modern-day facilities with outstanding 19th-century features makes the Almeida theatre a standout venue. The curved wall behind the stage brings the audience closer to the stage, creating an intimate performance space. One of the biggest reasons behind the venue's success is the intimacy between the performers and the audiences. Performances here are also usually a diverse range of both international and British drama featuring some leading international artists.
Throughout its history, many different groups owned the Almeida Theatre. The new Islington Literary and Scientific Society founded the venue in 1837, which followed the designs of architects Alexander Dick Gough and Robert Lewis Roumieu. In 1872, the Society sold the library. Two years later, the building was given to the Wellington Club, which they occupied until 1886. The venue remained in use for balls, concerts, and public meetings until 1885. In 1890, the Salvation Army bought the building and named it the Wellington Castle Barracks, later changing it in 1902 to the Welling Castle Citadel. The Salvationists left in 1955, and a year later the building became the Beck's British Carnival Novelties' factory and showroom for a few years. Finally, a campaign began to convert it back into a theatre in 1972. In the same year, the English Heritage designated the venue a Grade II listed building.
The Arts Council of England supported the Almeida Theatre with £1.5 million in November 1999 toward necessary repairs. In early 2001, the theatre closed for renovations, and the company rehomed itself in a former bus station at King's Cross. The National Lottery also backed the extensive restoration, providing an additional £5.8 million. Architect Burrell Foley Fischer led the re-design. Following the restoration, in 2002, Michael Attenborough became the theatre's artistic director. The stage lit up again in 2003 as the Trevor Nunn-directed The Lady From The Sea marked the venue's reopening.
After Attenborough resigned from the post in 2013, Rupert Goold became the building's new artistic director. His first production here was the world premiere of the musical thriller American Psycho, which opened on 3rd December and ran until 1st February 2014. After this successful show, he worked as the director of Mike Bartlett's King Charles III, which sold out before transferring to Wyndham's and later to Broadway.