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King’s Head offers live streams for the isolated

PUBLISHED: 14:57 20 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:57 20 March 2020

Fiona English and Adam Spreadbury Maher who run the King's Head Theatre in Islington

Fiona English and Adam Spreadbury Maher who run the King's Head Theatre in Islington

© Nick Rutter

Islington’s famous pub theatre has closed its doors but is running interactive lunchtime play clubs, performances and Q&As with staff members

From the smallest fringe venue to the National Theatre, Boris Johnson’s advice on Monday to avoid large gatherings in enclosed spaces spelled closure for the nation’s entertainment industry.

The lights may have gone out across London’s theatreland, but some are trying to leave a candle in the window for the millions isolated indoors.

The King’s Head in Upper Street, one of the first - and best known - of the capital’s pub theatres is doing its bit with interactive daily lunchtime live streams via Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok.

Founded by Dan Crawford, the theatre, which this year celebrates its 50th birthday, was recently awarded £800,000 by the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund towards moving into purpose built premises next door.

But on Tuesday, the board of trustees - in consultation with artistic director of 10 years Adam Spreadbury-Maher - set aside their exciting plans for the future and announced the decision to close until further notice.

“It’s a sad scenario at a social and global level and it’s also sad for the production that was on,” said Spreadbury-Maher.

“We were just about to open two brilliant productions that a lot of artists had spent a lot of their lives preparing and creating. But I am happy we made the decision that we did.”

Closing prematurely was King’s Head associate company Charles Court Opera’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe.

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But the Charles Court team will be back at 1pm on Monday via Facebook with an interactive live streamed performance.

It’s part of a daily schedule that includes a live takeover on Mondays offering a platform for artists, Thursday skill sessions with industry professionals such as playwrights and producers to “demystify the business”, a ‘meet the staff’ slot where a King’s Head employee, from box office to set designers, talk about their job, and a Friday ‘Book Club’ where a team read a script and analyse how they would stage it - next up, Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler.

“I hope it will help people feel we are closing and staying open at the same time,” said Spreadbury-Maher.

“Connecting with our audiences and artists, reaching as many people as possible..we talk about the King’s Head being a charity and changing people’s lives - this is what it’s all about.”

He added:“This regular daily offering is a wonderful opportunity to open the doors. It’s a safe space to share and learn from each other, to ask questions, build skills and connections, so that when we get back into the theatre, we have got better.”

Those tuning in will be able to ask questions and the content will remain available if people miss it.

Spreadbury-Maher said it’s important in these isolated times not to neglect our minds and imaginations.

“Something very interesting and life affirming could come out of this horrible life affecting story, and change the way we live our lives in the future.”

The King’s Head has so far raised £2 million of the £3.5 million needed to move into its new home.

Access the daily live streamings via the King’s Head’s Facebook page or go to kingsheadtheatre.com

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