After 53 years, the final curtain fell on the King’s Head pub theatre last night (August 13) as the beloved venue closed their doors for the final time in their current location.
The charity that runs the venue announced that they are moving to a fully-accessible new custom-built theatre, located just behind the existing pub in Islington Square. The new venue will feature a 200 seat auditorium and an intimate 50 seat cabaret space and although contractors are already on site, no opening date or programme has yet been announced.
The oldest pub theatre in the UK went out with a bang, with their swan song, ‘Curtain Call‘, being a goodbye gala which invited back many of the iconic performers that have played at the theatre over the years.
Past performers reminisced together about the beloved theatre with Richard E Grant saying via video message that he was “indebted to the King’s Head Theatre pub” for helping to kickstart his career. Joanna Lumley wrote, recalling her time at the legendary pub theatre, “we all changed together every night, normal feelings of modesty were banished. But there was something about the King’s Head that made it the happiest place to be on a May evening in 1983.”.
The evening also included Sherlock star (and King’s Head local), Mark Gatiss, performing an extract from Boys in the Band and an improtu speech from actor, Steven Berkoff, who said: “I always felt it was a sanctuary for people who were outside the mainstream. If you were odd, or an innovator, Dan’s was a place where you were accepted. He gave us underdogs hope and a bit of light – even though the terrible, dirty, grubby, dressing room was only the beginning of it.”
Renowned for helping launch the careers of many huge stars such as Hugh Grant, Richard E Grant, Joanna Lumley and Victoria Wood and also having produced many shows that later transferred to the West End; the King’s Head has been a vital organ on the London Theatre scene over the past 53 years and will continue to be so as they start their exciting new venture.
King’s Head Theatre charity has launched a production fund, the Angels of Angel, which will support the theatre in commissioning and producing new work and create a space for like-minded theatre fanatics once the new venue opens its doors. Donors to the fund are invited to ‘sponsor a stair’ in the new theatre, with each stair being dedicated to a standout show from the theatre’s 53 year history.
Sofi Berenger, Senior Producer, said “It’s incredibly exciting to be looking towards the future of the new theatre, and the future of being able to produce new work on our stage through our Angels of Angel network. Our aim is to create a theatre space that can truly respond and react to artists and audiences, heralding in a new era post-pandemic. We are also making sure to look back, reflect, honour and celebrate everything and everyone that has made King’s Head Theatre one of the leaders of London’s Fringe and independent theatre for 53 years.”
James Seabright, Chair of Trustees, added “the amazing opportunity for the charity to move into a new home that will stand it in good stead for the next five decades has been made possible by a dream team of partners.”
Find out more about the new theatre, the closing of the pub theatre, and the Angels of Angel campaign here.