The Jermyn Street Theatre Story
During the 1930s, the basement of 16b Jermyn Street – close to Piccadilly in the heart of London’s West End – was home to the glamorous Monseigneur Restaurant and Club. The space was converted into a theatre by Howard Jameson and Penny Horner in the early 1990s and Jermyn Street Theatre staged its first production in August 1994. The theatre director Neil Marcus became the first Artistic Director in 1995 and secured Lottery funding for the venue; the producer Chris Grady also made a major contribution to the theatre’s development. In the late 1990s, the Artistic Director was David Babani, later the founder and Artistic Director of the Menier Chocolate Factory. In 1995, HRH Princess Michael of Kent became the theatre’s Patron.
Over the last twenty years the theatre has established itself as one of London’s leading Off-West End studio theatres, with hit productions including Barefoot in the Park with Alan Cox and Rachel Pickup, directed by Sally Hughes, and Helping Harry with Adrian Lukis and Simon Dutton, directed by Nickolas Grace. Gene David Kirk, accompanied by Associate Director Anthony Biggs, became Artistic Director in the late 2000s and reshaped the theatre’s creative output with revivals of rarely performed plays including Charles Morgan’s postwar classic The River Line, the UK premiere of Ibsen’s first performed play St John’s Night, and another Ibsen: Little Eyolf starring Imogen Stubbs and Doreen Mantle. Tom Littler staged two acclaimed Stephen Sondheim revivals: Anyone Can Whistle, starring Issy van Randwyck and Rosalie Craig, and Saturday Night, which transferred to the Arts Theatre.
In 2012 Trevor Nunn directed the world premiere of Samuel Beckett’s radio play All That Fall starring Eileen Atkins and Michael Gambon. The production subsequently transferred to the Arts Theatre and then to New York’s 59E59 Theatre. Jermyn Street Theatre was nominated for the Peter Brook Empty Space Award in 2011 and won The Stage 100 Best Fringe Theatre in 2012.
Anthony Biggs became Artistic Director in 2013, combining his love of rediscoveries with a new focus on emerging artists and writers from outside the UK. Recent revivals include Eugene O’Neill’s early American work The First Man, Terence Rattigan’s first play First Episode, John Van Druten’s First World War drama Flowers of the Forest, and a repertory season of South African drama. New work includes US playwright Ruby Rae Spiegel’s Dry Land, Jonathan Lewis’s A Level Playing Field, and Sarah Daniels’ Soldiers’ Wives starring Cath Shipton.
In summer 2017, Anthony Biggs stepped down and Tom Littler took over as Artistic Director. Littler has previously been Associate Director of new-writing venue Theatre503 and Associate Director of the Peter Hall Company. He founded the theatre company Primavera and ran it for over ten years, winning numerous awards. His opening production, the world premiere of Howard Brenton’s The Blinding Light, was his sixth at Jermyn Street Theatre.
The theatre’s founders, Howard Jameson and Penny Horner, have continued to serve as Chair of the Board and Executive Director respectively, and the generous donors, front of house staff, and tireless volunteers all play their parts in the Jermyn Street Theatre story.
Arthouse Theatre in the Heart of the West End
Tom Littler is re-launching Jermyn Street Theatre as a full-scale producing theatre, creating around eight to ten productions every year. Littler’s vision for Jermyn Street Theatre is to create a thriving hub for arthouse theatre in the heart of the West End. The priorities are the staging of outstanding new plays, rare revivals, new versions of European classics, and high-quality musicals, alongside one-off literary events. Through a major fundraising campaign, and co-productions with prestigious venues and companies throughout the UK and Europe, Jermyn Street Theatre will spread its work further afield, and become an intimate home for entertaining, intelligent drama.
Working with Us
Some of the work we do is solely produced and funded by us. This is normally planned a long way in advance. Other productions arrive with funding (for example, from private sources or trusts and foundations) and then be general managed in-house at Jermyn Street Theatre. We work with regional theatres, theatres abroad, and touring companies to create co-productions. We are also happy to work with companies on a rental and contra basis if we like the project – or we can work with you to find the ideal play or musical. We do the marketing and PR for everything.
We have three seasons of about four months each year (spring, summer, and autumn – we don’t like winter). Each autumn we programme the next summer, in spring we programme autumn, and in summer we programme the next spring.
You are always welcome to pitch us ideas. We prefer a production proposal to an unsolicited manuscript, but if we think the script is strong and suitable for us, we can attempt to help you get the project off the ground. But please be patient – we are a tiny and overstretched team and we don’t have a literary department.
We are especially keen to hear from female producers, directors, and playwrights, and their agents, and to read scripts with women at their core. Female-led scripts and projects will be considered first.
Most of the writers and creatives who work with us are established or mid-career, but we always have room for emerging artists too.
We are signatories to the Equity Fringe Agreement, so all actors, stage management and creatives must be paid at least the NMW. We can provide guidance. We also have a commitment that at least 50% of all our onstage and offstage teams must be female each year.
In the first instance, please send a short email and script / proposal to our General Manager, Will Herman on email@example.com He will forward it to the relevant person.
Meet the Team
Honorary Patron: Princess Michael of Kent
Patron: Sir Michael Gambon
Chair of the Board: Howard Jameson
Artistic Director: Tom Littler
Executive Director: Penny Horner
Deputy Director: Stella Powell-Jones*
Design Associate: Louie Whitmore
Associate: Natasha Rickman
Front of House Duty Managers:
Grace Wessels, Adam Lilley, Pam Keen, Adam Ishaq, Laura Jury-Hyde, Kennedy Bloomer.
Bar Team: Mandy Berger, Jerry Cox, Wendy Ann Jefferies
Building Manager: Jon Wadey
*The Deputy Director position is sponsored by the Carne Trust.
Jermyn Street Theatre is a charitable trust, Registered Charity No.1019755. It receives no regular or statutory or Arts Council funding. Ticket sales account for around two-thirds of the costs of most productions, with the remainder met by generous private donations, bequests, trusts and foundations, and corporate sponsorship. Subsidising our overheads and our productions costs around £300,000 each year.