10 things I learnt on the @royalcourt building tour yesterday
1. The concrete walls have won awards - look closely and you can see the wood grain from the boxes they used as moulds for the blocks.
2. The Royal Court was a receiving theatre and is now a producing theatre.
3. It's the only theatre in the country which accepts unsolicited play scripts which are all read. If you send your play script to the National Theatre they will tell you to send it to the Royal Court.
4. As a theatre that fosters writing talent only the playwrights get star billing, none of the actors do, no matter who they are.
5. Rehearsing is done on site in a room created in the eaves of the building that was originally earmarked for offices; auditions are conducted on site too.
6. The grilles which act as window decoration in the stairwell to the Jerwood Upstairs were originally the drains in the ladies loo
7. The trapdoor for the Jerwood Upstairs is accessed from the theatre's offices underneath (I want to work in that office)
8. There is actually no stage at the Jerwood Downstairs, the boards the actors tread are specially made for each production which gives the theatre more flexibility and a quicker turnaround between productions. (When we stood on the stage yesterday, which is set up for Haunted Child, you could see through the cracks to the rather large space below which was a little bit unnerving).
9. In the stalls, the very back row is known as 'writer's row' because that's where the playwrights watch their plays being performed during preview, chosen so they can make a sharp exit at the end.
10. The Jerwood Upstairs was originally a private members club to get around laws that required all play scripts to be approved and therefore potentially edited and censored before they could be performed.
Tours around the Royal Court Theatre are conducted about four times a year and cost £7. Numbers are limited so booking in advance is recommended. The tour lasts 90 minutes and I can thoroughly recommend it.