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Proposed immersive theatre could bring resistance fighter's story to Royal Docks

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 November 2019

A scene from Soldier of Orange, which could be coming to the Royal Docks next year. Picture: Joris van Bennekom

A scene from Soldier of Orange, which could be coming to the Royal Docks next year. Picture: Joris van Bennekom

Deze foto mag, gedurende de speelperiode van deze voorstelling, vrij van publicatierechten worden gebruikt, op voorwaarde dat bi

A temporary immersive theatre could bring the tale of a Dutch resistance fighter to the Royal Docks.

A scene from Soldier of Orange, which could be coming to the Royal Docks next year. Picture: Joris van BennekomA scene from Soldier of Orange, which could be coming to the Royal Docks next year. Picture: Joris van Bennekom

A planning application to hold a musical production of Soldier of Orange has been submitted to Newham Council.

The team behind the show wants to create "a single space that will house a bespoke 360-degree immersive theatre with a rotating 1,150-seat platform which slowly reveals a panoramic set during the course of the show".

In addition, the development will contain a restaurant and bar, as well as a small museum about the Soldier of Orange story.

The theatre, situated within walking distance of Beckton Park DLR station, will be largely car-free, with 15 blue badge spaces and 25 staff-only spaces proposed. There will also be space for taxis and coaches to pick up and drop off visitors, and provision for 59 bikes to be stored.

The show itself opened in a converted Second World War aircraft hangar in the Netherlands nine years ago, and since then has been seen by more than 2.8 million people.

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Billed as a "unique theatrical experience", Soldier of Orange is based on the true story of Dutch resistance fighter Erick Hazelhoff Roelfzema, who joined the RAF during the Second World War.

He escaped to England at the start of the war then smuggled radio transmitters into the Netherlands and took part in RAF bombing raids over Germany.

The decision to locate the British version of the musical in the Royal Docks - itself heavily bombed during the Second World War - "creates a poignant link between Holland and the UK", according to the proposals.

The theatre is set to be built on undeveloped land which has been earmarked for the fourth phase of the ABP development.

However, work is not set to begin until at least the middle of the next decade, leading to the proposal for a temporary use for the site.

The plans state: "The proposed development of the theatre [...] will in fact help to support the site in the interim".

If the application is approved by Newham Council, the theatre could open in the autumn of 2020.

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