A new open air amphitheatre has opened in central London

The Fleet Street Quarter is apparently now a thing, a new ‘Business Improvement District’ that is attempting to put a fresh spin on the area of town where all the newspapers used to be located. Which is fine so long as we get shiny new things, and here comes Assembly, a 50-seat outdoor performance space that is being billed as ‘the City’s first modern amphitheatre’ and ‘the first in the City in 2,000 years’.

If we were more pedantic, we would point out that there was a Roman amphitheatre built at nearby Guildhall a mere 1,954 years ago. Assembly is also undeniably a pretty dinky affair that seriously stretches the definition of the word ‘amphitheatre’.

But whatever, there’s a new performance space hosting free work in the middle of the City. Designed by Urban Radicals, AKT II and Millimetre for the London Festival of Architecture 2024, Assembly opened recently with a show from the much-loved ‘Yamato: The Drummers of Japan’, which was brought there under the auspices of Sadler’s Wells.

Over the next couple of months Assembly will play host to an entirely free programme that will take in workshops, lectures and discussion panels and perhaps most thrillingly, a 90-minute take on Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (that’ll play on July 3, 9 and 31 from 5.30pm). And there’ll be more where that came from.

Is Assembly going to have the National Theatre running scared? No! But for those who live and work nearby, having this injection of free culture on your doorstep is seriously cool, regardless of whether you’d call it an amphitheatre.

Assembly is located in the Maughan Library courtyard of King’s College London. See the full programme here.

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