I have a question: what is the proper preparation procedure one should undergo before embarking on a challenge to visit every theatre in London? Some sort of regime based on early nights, a diet rich in protein and fruits, and comfortable shoes is what I’m guessing. Possibly the introduction of early morning runs. For stamina building. And a daily multi-vitamin.
Yeah, well. I’m not going to do any of that. I mean, I take vitamin D every day. But with my need for factor 50 every time I dare venture outside, those little white pills are the only thing that stands between me and my bones crumbling to dust inside of me. Oh, and biotin. For my hair. Not sure if that counts.
Basically, what I’m saying is that to me, healthy habits is just the name of the local convent’s jogging club.
But don’t let that convince you that I’m just barrelling into this unprepared.
Look around you… I built this website/blog thing. Pretty swanky, right?
A website/blog thing, no matter how swanky, is just a glorified diary. Except this one doesn’t have a pink quilted cover with a lock on it. Which is probably for the best. And not only because pink isn’t my colour. The public nature of this challenge, and potential for abject, hideously embarrassing failure is just the thing I need to keep away from the tempting lure of the box set.
So, the website is important. But not as important as: The List.
The list of all the theatres I need to get to over the next year.
I was looking forward to the most exciting step of the entire process. Putting together the spreadsheet. Who doesn’t love some fancy spreadsheet action? Just give me a mug of tea, packet of chocolate hobnobs and a fresh spreadsheet just waiting to be populated with data, and I am set for the evening. So, when Friday night roles around, kettle boiled and the seal and packet of hobnobs teased open I sat myself down with my laptop on my knees and got ready to work my magic on the official list of theatres in London.
Three cups of tea and severely diminished pile of biscuits later I realised the problem.
Did you know that there isn’t an official list of London theatres?
Because there isn’t an official list of London theatres.
I don’t know about you, but I’d expect there to be an official list of London theatres.
I mean, there are plenty of lists. If you google “London theatres list,” there are plenty of websites clamouring to show off their wares. But start clicking on those links and you’ll soon start to notice that though all the lists are all very impressive, what they lack is the one thing I want from them: consistency. LondonNet’s offering doesn’t go much beyond the West End. London Theatre, who you’d think would be the definitive source, seems to have something against pub theatres. While Wikipedia, surely the home of minimally-useful list, seems to also be missing a few. Did you know there was a theatre on the Cutty Sark? Because none of these websites did.
So there was nothing for it. I had to create my own.
All that research. It was going to take days.
Honestly, I’d never been so hyped.
That feeling lasted precisely as long as it took me to insert the COUNTIF formula on my spreadsheet.
That’s a fucking lot of theatres.
There are 365 days in 2019, which means I need to see a show every 1.7 days. Or just over 4 shows a week.
Daunting, but let’s be real. That’s totally manageable. I can even have weekends off.
And then I remembered something. I had a list of theatres. Saved in the expansive personal filing system I call my inbox. I had emailed it to myself back in 2014 (I told you that I had been thinking about doing this damn thing for years). I’d even counted them. There, at the bottom of the list, was the total figure: 241.
That’s nearly 5 shows a week. Every week. For a year.
That doesn’t leave a lot of room for, like… illness. Or holidays.
I went back to the list.
It didn’t take me long to realise that things have moved on in theatre-land since 2014. There’s been a hell of a lot of closures. And this list was a lot more generous in its definition of London than I’m being now.
After an evening spent with a red pen in hand, a highlighter sticking out of the side of my mouth like a old man’s pipe, and my fingers busy smashing away on my laptop keys, I managed to put all my lists together and come up with the one you can find here.
That’s it. That’s the list I’m working to. Those are the theatres I’m going to visit next year.
All 233 of them.
Except, perhaps not. The list includes a lot of theatres that are due to, but haven’t yet actually opened. And there may well be some sneaky pop-ups that may, well… pop-up at some point. But for now, that’s the list.
So, yeah. That’s me done. 2019, I am ready for you.
Although, should probably buy tickets at some point. Hmmm.