The end of an era, start of a new venture
The grand daddy of pub theatres, The King’s Head Theatre in Islington opened in 1970 by Dan Crawford and home to a legion of stars to be and stars, as well as some memorable productions, is to moved in 2018 to brand new premises in Islington Square. It is a major change and spreading of wings and it will be interesting to see how the new theatre because that is what it is, thrives in a world where the fringe proliferates almost daily.
Crawford, an American from Hackensack, ran an amazing programme over the years with the theatre at one point serving dinner and a show – something to marvel at. In its heyday, before others followed, it was the place to go and a legion of players on the way to the top, or not, as the case may be, performed there. Some of them welcomed the news. Joanna Lumley said it was thrilling that it now had a chance to spread its colossal wings and fly into the front line of innovative work in the theatre capital of the world.
“It always punched far above its weight,” she said. “With these dazzling new – planned – facilities it can even offer comfort (hitherto pretty much on dreamed of) and reliability (once rain fell so steadily on the audiences’ heads that they made umbrella of their programmes). It is a bright star with a brighter future, and no place deserves it more.”
Others who have appeared over the years include Janie Dee, Bertice Reading, Saunders and French, Angela Richards, Stephen Berkof, Alan Rickman, Thelma Ruby, Denis Lawson, Maureen Lipman and Mark Gatiss. It has been a home to opera and to the Charles Court Opera Company’s annual pantomime and in recent years has focussed on gay theatre. Until the new premises are ready the theatre will move to a temporary home in what is the John Salt Bar at 131 Upper Street.It is a case of plus ca change but will it be the meme chose?