Iconic Islington pub theatre appeals for help to secure its future

King's Head pub theatre

King's Head pub theatre - Credit: Archant

An icon of Islington is seeking financial help to secure its long term future.

Adam Spreadbury-Maher

Adam Spreadbury-Maher - Credit: Archant

The King’s Head Theatre in Upper Street is on the look out for a generous benefactor who can come in and support a planned programme of growth.

The theatre is among the most celebrated fringe venues in the country but has become hampered by a need to bring in a minimum of £100,000-a-year just to keep going.

Adam Spreadbury-Maher, artistic director, said the theatre is not in any immediate threat of closure, but needs investment to ensure it has a bright future.

He said: “As a theatre company we produce eight new productions a year and we pay everybody – have done since 2011.


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“We don’t get any regular public funding and we have no bar trade so finding the cash to keep going is pretty tough for the group of seven who run things.”

Mr Spreadbury-Maher, 31, from Bethnal Green, told the Gazette that the theatre’s situation was not “critical” but without financial help it would struggle to improve.

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The King’s Head is the oldest pub theatre in London and, opened in 1970, was the first in the capital since the time of William Shakespeare.

Mr Spreadbury-Maher said: “A theatre pub is a completely different experience. It is a different relationship the audience has to the art.

“By removing the barrier of space between the art form and the audience it means you can assess the performance in a completely different way.

“The King’s Head is also a reminder that fringe venues aren’t just showcases for young ambitious directors. This is where things begin and the highest volume of new work happens on the fringe.

“That’s why it’s important. We can keep on going but it is about growth. Every year we have committed to pay performers more in line with Equity. We are ambitious and we want to grow but we need help.”

Anyone willing to help out can contact the team at The King’s Head through the website www.kingsheadtheatre.com or by calling 0207 478 0160.

The team is also encouraging interested people to attend a development night for the next performance, La Traviata, where they can see what goes on and chat to staff.

It will run on November 14 and for ticketing information visit the website.

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