Heart of the West End conference

David Chadderton

Leading figures in current and past West End theatre will mix with theatre academics at a two-day conference on commercial theatre in the West End organised by Royal Holloway College University of London, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Theatre Royal Haymarket.

The first day of the conference on Sunday 25 March looks at the history of the West End with papers presented on topics including Oscar Wilde, Christmas pantomime, James Winston’s part in the founding of the Garrick Club and the Gatti family’s virtual monopoly on providing electricity to light the West End stage. Professor Jacky Bratton will launch her new book The Making of the West End: Marriage, management and the mapping of gender in London, 1830-1870, and guest speaker will round off the day with a talk on the West End's theatre buildings.

The following day will focus on the current state of the West End, with round table discussions on “What makes the West End special?”, “What do audiences want from their ‘good night out’?” and “How important is Theatreland to the future of the West End?” The morning is dedicated to new theatre makers with presentations from Blayne George of the Theatre Royal Haymarket’s Masterclass and a discussion with Kate Dorney from the V&A Theatre Collection on the launching of their Hundred Plays app.

Academic and critic for Variety Karen Fricker will chair a discussion on the future of the West End in the afternoon featuring guest panellists Lyn Gardner, theatre critic for The Guardian, Donmar Warehouse executive producer Kate Pakenham and literary associate for Sonia Friedman Productions Jack Bradley.

The conference is organised by Dr. Gilli Bush-Bailey of Royal Holloway, University of London, who said, "With many RHUL alumni now working in West End theatre production it is a timely moment for RHUL, the V&A and Theatre Royal Haymarket to join together to offer a closer look at the Heart of The West End."

The conference will run on 25 and 26 March with tickers at £60 for one day or £100 for both an a student day rate of £30. For more information or to book tickets, call 0845 481 1870, go to http://www.trh.co.uk/book_tmwes.php or visit Theatre Royal Haymarket, 18 Suffolk Street, London, SW1Y 4HT.