London, SW10 9ED
|Public transit||Earl's Court West Brompton|
|Type||Off West End theatre|
|Rebuilt||Internal reconstruction, 1983|
|Years active||1980 - present|
The Finborough Theatre is a fifty-seat theatre in the West Brompton area of London (part of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea) under artistic directorship of Neil McPherson. The theatre presents new British writing, as well as UK and world premieres of new plays primarily from the English speaking world including North America, Canada, Ireland, and Scotland including work in the Scots language. The venue also presents music theatre, and rarely seen rediscovered 19th and 20th century plays.
The Finborough Arms was built in 1868 to a design by George Godwin. It was one of five public houses built by Corbett and McClymont in the Earls Court area during the West London development boom of the 1860s. The ground floor and basement of the building was converted into The Finborough Road Brasserie from 2008 to 2010 and The Finborough Wine Cafe from 2010 to 2012. The pub reopened under its original name of The Finborough Arms in February 2014.
June Abbott opened the theatre above the Finborough Arms Public House in June 1980. In its first decade, artists working at the new theatre included Clive Barker, Kathy Burke, Ken Campbell, Mark Rylance, and Clare Dowie who appeared in the world première of her own play Adult Child/Dead Child.
From 1991-1994, the theatre was best known for new writing with Naomi Wallace’s first play The War Boys ; Rachel Weisz in David Farr’s Neville Southall’s Washbag, Elton John’s Glasses; Holding Back the Ocean by Godfrey Hamilton; and three plays by Anthony Neilson: The Year of the Family; Normal: The Düsseldorf Ripper; and Penetrator, which transferred from the Traverse and went on to play at the Royal Court Upstairs. From 1994, the theatre was run by The Steam Industry under Artistic Director Phil Willmott. Productions included new plays by Tony Marchant, David Eldridge, Mark Ravenhill, and Phil Willmott. New writing development included Mark Ravenhill’s Shopping and F*cking  (Royal Court, West End and Broadway) and Naomi Wallace’s Slaughter City (Royal Shakespeare Company), the UK première of David Mamet’s The Woods, and Anthony Neilson’s The Censor, which transferred to the Royal Court.
Productions since 2000 have included the UK premières of Brad Fraser’s Wolfboy; Lanford Wilson’s Sympathetic Magic; Tennessee Williams’ Something Cloudy, Something Clear; and Frank McGuinness’ Gates of Gold  with William Gaunt and the late John Bennett in his last stage role which transferred to the West End; the London première of Sonja Linden’s I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady from Rwanda; the specially commissioned adaptation of W.H. Davies’ Young Emma by Laura Wade and directed by Tamara Harvey; the first London revival for more than 40 years of Rolf Hochhuth’s Soldiers; Keith Dewhurst's Lark Rise to Candleford, performed in promenade and in repertoire; the Great War drama Red Night, and five first plays by new writers: Jason Hall's Eyes Catch Fire; Chris Dunkley’s Mirita; Dameon Garnett's Break Away , Simon Vinnicombe's Year 10, Joy Wilkinson's Fair which transferred to the West End; Waterloo Day with Robert Lang; Sarah Phelps’ Modern Dance for Beginners, subsequently produced at the Soho Theatre; Carolyn Scott-Jeffs' comedy Out in the Garden, which transferred to the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh; the London premiere of Larry Kramer's The Destiny of Me ; The Women’s War – an evening of original suffragette plays; Steve Hennessy’s Lullabies of Broadmoor (about the Finborough Road murder of 1922); the Victorian era comedy Masks and Faces; Etta Jenks with Clarke Peters and Daniela Nardini; The Gigli Concert with Niall Buggy, Catherine Cusack and Paul McGann which transferred to the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh); Hortensia and the Museum of Dreams with Linda Bassett, Albert's Boy by James Graham starring Victor Spinetti, Peter Oswald’s Lucifer Saved with Mark Rylance, Blackwater Angel, the UK debut of Irish playwright Jim Nolan with Sean Campion, the first London revival for over seventy years of Loyalties by John Galsworthy, the world premiere of Plague Over England by Nicholas de Jongh which subsequently transferred to the West End at the Duchess Theatre, the first revival of Hangover Square, adapted by Fidelis Morgan from the novel by Patrick Hamilton, the UK premiere of the musical Ordinary Days by Adam Gwon and a season of plays by William Saroyan.
In March 2010 the theatre presented the world premiere of A Day at the Racists, a new piece of political theatre by Anders Lustgarten, charting the rise of the BNP in Barking. In 2011 productions included a critically acclaimed production of Mixed Marriage by St John Ervine, as well as Dawn King's Foxfinder, as well as revivals of Emlyn Williams's Accolade and Caryl Churchill's Fen. Air conditioning was also installed in 2011. In 2012 productions at the theatre included John McGrath's Events While Guarding the BoforsGun and revivals of Arthur Miller's The American Clock and J. B. Priestley's Cornelius which subsequently transferred Off-Broadway. In November 2012, the theatre presented twelve new plays as part of its fourth annual Vibrant - A Festival of Finborough Playwrights. The plays include The Andes by Alexandra Wood, The Sugar-Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie by Anders Lustgarten and Pig Girl by Colleen Murphy. 2012 saw transfers of London Wall by John Van Druten to St James' Theatre, and Cornelius by J.B. Priestley to Off-Broadway.
The Finborough Theatre has also presented musical theatre, including Schwartz It All About which transferred to Edinburgh and the King's Head Theatre, the world premiere of Charles Miller and Kevin Hammonds' When Midnight Strikes, the UK premieres of Lucky Nurse and Other Short Musical Plays by Michael John LaChuisa, Darius Milhaud’s opera Médée, Myths and Hymns by Adam Guettel, John and Jen by Andrew Lippa and Three Sides by Grant Olding, and an acclaimed series 'Celebrating British Musical Theatre' from the Victorian and Edwardian era with Florodora, Our Miss Gibbs, The Maid of the Mountains and A Gilbert and Sullivan Doublebill featuring Sweethearts, a play by W.S. Gilbert, The Zoo, an operetta by Arthur Sullivan and Bolton Rowe, the opera The Boatswain's Mate by Ethel Smyth and two rare musicals by Rodgers and Hammerstein - the UK premiere of State Fair which transferred to the West End, and the European premiere of Me and Juliet.
The Finborough Theatre has won the Pearson Award bursary for playwrights nine times for Chris Lee in 2000, Laura Wade in 2005, James Graham in 2006, Al Smith in 2007, Anders Lustgarten in 2009, Simon Vinnicombe in 2010, Dawn King in 2011, Shamser Sinha in 2013 and Chris Thompson in 2014 – as well as the Pearson Award for Best Play for Laura Wade in 2005 and - under its new name - the Catherine Johnson Best Play Award in 2007 for James Graham and for Anders Lustgarten in 2010. Anders Lustgarten also won the inaugural Harold Pinter Playwrights Award for the same play, A Day at the Racists, in 2011.
The Finborough Theatre won the Empty Space Peter Brook Award in 2010 and for a second time in 2012. It was also the inaugural winner of the Empty Space Peter Brook Award’s Dan Crawford Pub Theatre Award in 2005 which it also won again in 2008. It has also won the Empty Space Peter Brook Mark Marvin Award in 2004 . The Finborough Theatre won four awards in total at the 2011 Off West End Awards, and at the 2012 Off West End Awards, the Finborough Theatre won eight awards in total including Best Artistic Director and Best Director for the second year running, and Best Production, Best Male Performance and Most Promising New Playwright.
Neil McPherson was named as Best Artistic Director in the 2009 Fringe Report Awards  and both the 2011 and 2012 Off West End Awards, and won an award for the Encouragement of New Writing from the Writers Guild of Great Britain in 2010.