Reborn from the Ashes: Alexandra Palace Theatre

Gran Teatro La Fenice is one of the most important and famous Venice theatres. Its fame is not only due to the events, concerts and the famous musicians and directors who have been performing there for centuries, but also for its history. The name itself tells the story of this fantastic place. As a matter of fact, in the past, the theatre suffered from two fires which destroyed it almost completely and it was twice built anew. Like the mythological bird who can be born again from its ashes, the theatre was restored and its grandeur has never died.

Photo: courtesy of Alexandra Palace Theatre
Photo: courtesy of Alexandra Palace Theatre

Gran Teatro La Fenice perhaps is one of the most famous examples of theatres destroyed by fire, along with The Globe Theatre in London which has a similar history of fire and rebirth. But there is another theatre in London which follows in the lineage of La Fenice and the Globe; the Victorian Theatre in Alexandra Palace, also known as “The People’s Palace”. Considered as one of the landmarks of the Victorian cultural landscape, the Palace is described by My Theatre Mates as the “witness to the vitality and exploration of the overlapping specialities of architecture, civil engineering, building and decorative arts in Victorian London.”

Photo: courtesy of Alexandra Palace Theatre
Photo: courtesy of Alexandra Palace Theatre

The Victorian Theatre opened in 1873, but after a fortnight it was destroyed by a fire and reopened in 1875. Here almost 3000 people could enjoy opera, drama, ballet, pantomime and concerts framed by an innovative stage machinery. After 80 years of deep sleep, like a modern Sleeping Beauty who wakes up thanks to a kiss from the Prince, the Victorian Theatre will be reopened in 2018, but it needs our contribution because three princes are better than one. The Heritage Lottery Fund is providing £18.8m for the restoration and Haringey Council will be contributing £6.8m, but another £1m is still needed to reach the goal. The project needs our support to bring entertainment and fun to the community, Londoners, and tourists.

The theatre is not the only site which will be restored. The project includes the restoration of the whole east wing of the Palace. This part plays a great role in British history not only because it contains the theatre, but also because in the 1930s it hosted the BBC studios from where the first high definition programmes were broadcast in 1936, along with the first colour signals. Thanks to the restoration and with contributions from the BBC’s archives, the studios will become an interactive point of reference for all those who are interested in the history of British broadcast. So donate the amount you want and let’s bring the Palace back to the people.


Edited by Ivy Joseph

Giorgia Damiani


Giorgia graduated in English Literature and Language at Ca' Foscari University, Venice. She loves writing and is a voracious and passionate reader. She believes that literature can give you a broader view of the world. "London is a whirlwind of ideas and I want to catch them all."

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