From its founding in 1980, the Finborough Theatre in Earls Court has featured the likes of playwright Naomi Wallace, Wolf Hall star Mark Rylance, and multiple notable Hollywood stars, including Rachel Weisz. But previously abandoned plans proposing new flats above the theatre may pose a threat to its future.
Neil McPherson, artistic director of the theatre, expressed his concerns for the venue, saying: ‘These plans have been rejected before but they have come back again. This time the plans do include some sound-proofing but we have consulted with three consultants who say it’s not good enough for a theatre. The plans would put a kitchen, bathroom and living space directly above the auditorium. If the noise from the flat above gets to a certain level then we won’t be able to put on shows.’ He added that, should a future tenant complain about noise from the theatre, shows will be restricted to close at 9pm, potentially affecting its future existence.
The plans, submitted by Shelley Chopra, are currently being considered by Kensington and Chelsea council, with a decision due to be made in September. Chopra believes that the accompanying noise report suggests that any noise from the flats would not ‘have a negative impact on the operations’ of the theatre. Chopra has expressed that he would like to work with the theatre, and has ‘consulted with acoustics experts’ and ‘looked at putting in carpets and other sound-proofing methods.’ He added that ‘the theatre will benefit from this planned development which also includes a new roof for the building and a separate entrance for them for the first time. I cannot emphasise enough, we do not want the theatre to close.’
The news has raised worldwide concern for the future of the theatre – and, by extension, the future of the arts, with a letter from as far as Canada warning that closing the theatre would be ‘an inestimable cultural loss for London.’