Dame Judi Dench to reopen Ashcroft Playhouse next month

Award-winning actress Dame Judi Dench will be in Croydon next month to kick-off a week-long series of events celebrating the reopening of Fairfield Halls.

Dame Judi will formally reopen the Ashcroft Playhouse, previously known as the Ashcroft Theatre, on Monday 16 September, with an exclusive Q&A hosted by broadcaster John Hannam about her friend and Croydon-born fellow actress Dame Peggy Ashcroft. British author and theatre critic Michael Billington OBE will join the conversation to talk about the BAFTA and Laurence Olivier award-winning actress.

The Q&A will take place in front of a specially-invited audience of students from local schools studying GCSE and A-Level drama and a limited number of tickets will be available for members of the public to purchase from Friday 9 August 2019.

Dame Judi previously visited Fairfield Halls on 23 June 1993, when she unveiled a display commemorating Dame Peggy’s life including a painting, photographs and an Evening Standard award.

And when she returns next month, she will read a specially-commissioned piece of poetry and unveil a commemorative photo mosaic created by artist Helen Marshall. The image of Dame Peggy will be made up of hundreds of images of Croydon residents.

The newly named Playhouse was previously known as the Ashcroft Theatre, and was originally opened by Dame Peggy on 5 November 1962.  During the ceremony she read a monologue specially written for the occasion by Sir John Betjeman called ‘Local Girl Makes Good’. In recognition of this, the new mosaic will be titled ‘Girl Done Good’.

Residents are invited to upload their photos for inclusion in the mosaic here https://thepeoplespicture.com/girldonegood/

Tickets will go on sale to Fairfield Halls Members at 10.30 and mailing list subscribers at 1.30pm on Wednesday 7 August, and on general sale at 10am Friday 9 August. fairfield.co.uk

Dame Judi said,

I’m delighted to be returning to Croydon’s Fairfield Halls to celebrate the life and career of my dear friend Peggy Ashcroft, and I’m thrilled to reopen the Ashcroft Playhouse in her honour. I hope new generations visiting the venue will discover her legacy and be inspired by it.”

Artistic and Venue Director Neil Chandler said,

We’re delighted to welcome Dame Judi Dench back to Fairfield Halls to reopen the Ashcroft Playhouse. It will be a special moment for us as we reawaken the history of the theatre named after iconic actress Dame Peggy Ashcroft, as well as celebrating the success of Croydon’s up and coming talent following in her footsteps. I encourage everyone in Croydon and surrounding areas who are supportive of the Arts to take part in the photo mural of Dame Peggy which will be hung in the Ashcroft Playhouse Foyer and be part of the history of Fairfield Halls.”

Councillor Tony Newman, leader of Croydon Council, said,

The reopening of Fairfield Halls will be a momentous occasion for Croydon and I am delighted Dame Judi Dench is coming back to Fairfield Halls to unveil the new Ashcroft Playhouse.

“I’ve no doubt her Q&A will be a unique and inspiring experience for those lucky enough to be in attendance and look forward to seeing many of our residents’ photos form part of what I’m sure will be a simply stunning mosaic.

“We’re proud Fairfield Halls’ cultural offer will reflect Croydon’s diversity and we are determined to ensure this fantastic venue offers something for everyone.”


Image on homepage; Dame Judi Dench by Robert Wilson

Find out more at fairfield.co.uk

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Notes to Editors:

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