The Bush Theatre has announced a major £4million building redevelopment that will see the theatre gain full wheelchair access, and a brand new season of performance.
The development to the Shepherd's Bush theatre building - originally a library, built in 1895 - will create a new second space, improved backstage facilities and a new front-of-house area.
The plans, announced on Tuesday (February 23), include a new entrance and lift to make the theatre fully wheelchair-accessible, and the redevelopment will make the building more environmentally sustainable.
The redevelopment has been supported by Arts Council England and the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham as well as trusts and foundations, local businesses and individual donors.
Changes to the building will increase the capacity of the theatre and create a new studio space. It will also provide much better facilities for audiences and artists, with nearly 50% more space in the bars and café areas, and a revamp of the backstage areas.
The theatre hopes to welcome around 15,000 more people per year to the venue after the redevelopment.
During the building works, the Bush Theatre's programme will move out into the local community, to occupy bars, restaurants, venues and schools in west London, including Bush Hall and Notting Hill's The Tabernacle. The theatre will be closed to the public from mid-April.
The new programme of shows includes: the European premiere of Boys Will Be Boys, about representations of women in the male-dominated world of the city; This Place We Know, a series of plays performed along the iconic and chaotic Uxbridge Road; The Neighbourhood Project, a community project featuring residents of Shepherd's Bush; and a revival of The Royale, a critically acclaimed play based on the story of the first African-American heavyweight champion of the world.
As well as the new theatre programme, The Bush Theatre commissioned writer and poet Anthony Anaxagorou to create a poem about the theatre, entitled This Thing Moves, to celebrate the building as it goes forward.
Madani Younis, artistic director of The Bush Theatre, said: "Whilst we are incredibly proud to be redeveloping our theatre for the next generation, a theatre should not be defined by its walls - which is why we want to go beyond them.
"We have the privilege of being at the heart of one of the most diverse places in the country, and at a cultural crossroads of everything that it is to live in London today. We want to create a building that embraces this, and work that celebrates this.
"I want this to be remembered as the year where Uxbridge Road became our stage, where we met new audiences, and where we discovered the voices whose work will form the bedrock of British Theatre for years to come.
"All too often, theatre in this country doesn't reflect the culture of this country. By the end of this year, I hope that we can say with pride that this theatre truly represents the culture of the Uxbridge Road."
Speaking at the announcement on Tuesday, Mr Younis spoke of bringing theatre to the community of Shepherd's Bush and making theatre a more accessible art form; to this end, the expansion of seating by 20 per cent will see discounted seating available for just £10.
Mr Younis said: "The city of London is changing. The theatre must too."
Booking for Boys Will Be Boys and The Royale opens on Tuesday (February 23). Book online or call the box office on 020 8743 5050.