History of Sadler’s Wells:
Many different incarnations of the Sadler’s Wells theatre have stood upon the site in Clerkenwell. The first was a simple ‘Musick House’, which opened in 1683. Coupled with the eponymous well’s water and its status as a cure-all, the theatre enjoyed a wide array of clientele before its eventual decline in the 18th Century.
A newly constructed theatre opened in 1765, hosting a wide variety of productions, including patriotic plays and naval melodramas (with the assistance of an aquatic theatre), and literary adaptations. The theatre was eventually converted into a roller-skating rink in 1875 and condemned in 1878.
It re-opened as a theatre in 1879, becoming home to many music hall performers and eventually converting to a cinema in 1896. The theatre would close again in 1915, not to be reopened until 6 January 1931. The inaugural production of this new 20th Century phase was Twelfth Night starring Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud and a ballet school was established, after being granted regular rehearsal space.
The theatre closed during the Second World War and reopened in 1945. After losing its opera company to the London Coliseum, the theatre became the home for new artists and contemporary dance. This continued throughout the 20th Century, with one of the most successful productions being Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake (1995).
The current incarnation of the theatre opened on 11 October 1998, where it continues to play host to a wide variety of dance companies all across the world.