Curtain Up! Peter Dazeley shoots London theatres

The latest in photographer Peter Dazeley’s series of photobooks on the capital focuses on London’s theatres and takes the reader into some of the city’s most famous institutions

Following on from Unseen London (2014) and London Uncovered (2016), London Theatres goes behind the scenes to show the range of buildings that bring everything from plays, musicals and fringe theatre, to opera, ballet, bands and stand-up to audiences.

Wiltons Music Hall © Peter Dazeley
The stage from the auditorium, St Martins Theatre © Peter Dazeley

Alongside critic Michael Coveney’s take on each of the 46 featured theatres, Dazeley offers up their auditoriums, backstage and public areas – with several shots from viewpoints that the audiences rarely get to see.

Shakespeare’s Globe (below), the 1997 oak-framed replica of the theatre that once stood by the Thames, is featured – as is the glorious Wilton’s Music Hall (fully restored in 2015, shown above). An image of the paint-peeling insides of the main hall at Alexandra Palace – photographed prior to recent restoration work – strikes an interesting counterpoint to the lush interiors of many of the buildings.

Actors view, Shakespeare’s Globe © Peter Dazeley

There are three Grade I listed theatres in the capital – the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane; the Royal Opera House (shown below) and the Theatre Royal, Haymarket (shown in the book in all its Louis XVI decorative glory), but London Theatres also goes inside some of the city’s more recently established institutions, such as the Donmar Warehouse, which was founded in 1977. (Image below shows the set of One Night in Miami. Designer: Robert-Jones; Lighting designer: Oliver Fenwick.)

Royal Opera House © Peter Dazeley

The Regents Park Open Air Theatre is also explored from the auditorium and backstage. Founded in 1932 it was extensively refurbished in 2000. (Images shown below show the set of Pride and Prejudice (2016). Set design: Max-Jones.)

Alexandra Palace Theater © Peter Dazeley

As a £3bn business the London theatre scene is in rude health – and it now boasts a fantastic visual record of the varied and idiosyncratic institutions that have helped to create it.

London Theatres by Michael Coveney and Peter Dazeley is published by Frances Lincoln (£30). It includes a foreword by Sir Mark Rylance. See quartoknows.com

Auditorium from the circle, Wyndhams Theatre © Peter Dazeley

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