Battersea Arts Centre
Time Out says
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South London's erratic temple of the avant-garde
Housed in a vast, gorgeous Victorian gothic former Town Hall, Battersea Arts Centre is a much-loved South London landmark. It's got strong links with the local community – not least because it's a beaut of a venue to get married in. But it's definitely worth travelling for. It's popular with big name comedians as a venue for trialling new work, and hosts big, bold shows by some of the most exciting companies out there, including 1927, Bryony Kimmings, and Little Bulb. It's a venue with a constantly festival air, thanks to its cheap tickets and a convivial bar that offers a wide selection of beers and decent tapas.
Under long-term artistic director David Jubb it styled itself as home of 'scratch' (work-in-progress) performance, alongside mini-festivals of finished work and the occasional huge, mad project – including Punchdrunk's immersive 'Masque of the Red Death', which totally took over the entire theatre for a year. But now, change is in the air, courtesy of incoming artistic director Tarek Iskander, who's one of the founders of edgy Hackney venue The Yard, and also has years of experience supporting early-career artists in a senior role at the Arts Council.
Its occasionally turbulent history has been marked by at least one threat of closure due to loss of funding, and a dramatic fire in March 2015 that closed large portions of the building. To the outside eye, however, BAC remains indestructible, with fire damage just another phase in a building that's in constant flux and development. The triumphant reopening of its Grand Hall (courtesy of the aptly-named Phoenix renovation project) gives it one of the biggest stages outside of central London, and so far, it's found some characteristically thrilling ways of filling it.
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