The King’s Head Theatre charity has announced it will open the first new production at its purpose built 200-seat theatre on 8 January 2024, with the world premiere of Exhibitionists by Shaun McKenna and Andrew Van Sickle (previews from 5 January 2024).
Following an extensive programme of building works with support of £800,000 from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund, the new theatre in Islington Square is located immediately behind the original pub theatre, and features an accessible, flexible auditorium, offices, and rehearsal space, as well as two bars, one of which will double as a 50-seat cabaret, drag and comedy space as well as for rehearsals and readings.
The first new show in the theatre, Exhibitionists (5 Jan - 10 Feb 2024) is a modern gay romantic comedy written by Shaun McKenna (The Lord of the Rings, Watermill & Drury Lane; Ladies in Lavender, Royal & Derngate and Tour, Radio 4’s Eleanor Rising and the forthcoming The Forsyte Saga, Park Theatre) and Andrew Van Sickle. This exploration of love, betrayal and hook-ups sees five men find themselves in an intersecting comic web of relationships after they meet at an art exhibition. Directing the piece will be Bronagh Lagan (Cruise, West End; Flowers For Mrs Harris, Riverside Studios; Tick, Tick… Boom, Park Theatre) with a cast to be announced.
This will be followed by Turning The Screw (14 Feb - 10 Mar 2024) by Kevin Kelly and directed by Tim McArthur, which examines revered British composer Benjamin Britten and his close relationship with then 12-year old actor David Hemmings in 1954. Other shows include a transfer of Silent Faces’ hit physical theatre piece Godot Is A Woman (9 Jan - 3 Feb 2024), Liebenspiel’s Late Night Week (26 Feb - 2 Mar 2024) featuring unique comedy and formats including Marcel Lucont's Whine List, John Luke Roberts' Terrible Wonderful Adaptations, a comedy Scalextric tournament, Hot Queer Magic and mixed bills from Sam Lake, Olga Koch, Hugh Davies and Chloe Petts. Above The Stag’s Eurovision Your Decision will run in the lead up to this year's finals (29 April - 11 May 2024).
Later in the year, touring sensations New Old Friends bring their farcical comedy Houdini’s Greatest Escape (27 May - 30 June 2024) for a five-week run fresh from its UK tour. After famous escapologist Harry Houdini and wife Bess are framed for a murder can they clear their name in this knockabout thriller? Jonathan Maitland (An Audience with Jimmy Savile, The Interview, The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson, Park Theatre) will premiere the stage adaptation of his acclaimed book How To Survive Your Mother (23 Oct - 24 Nov 2024), centred around his relationship with his mother, and growing up in Britain's first ever gay hotel.
The venue will soft-launch the new theatre with a 10th anniversary revival of the drag comedy fantasia Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho by Olivier Award winner Jon Brittain (Rotterdam, Kathy and Stella Solve A Murder) and Matt Tedford (who stars in the title role). This Christmas Special edition will run from 16 to 30 December 2023.
Executive Producer (and acting CEO) Sofi Berenger said “I’m so excited to be announcing this incredible array of artists who will be the first to perform in our brand-new space, along with many more to be announced for our first year. Across our two spaces, we’ll be able to present multiple productions per week so there will always be something to see from plays, musicals, opera, drag, cabaret, comedy, family shows, pantomime and more at the new King’s Head Theatre!”
James Seabright (Chair of Trustees) said “It is exciting news that the new King’s Head Theatre will open just four months after we bid farewell to its old home of 53 years next door. This has been made possible through the support of Islington Council and our key funders the Mayor of London through Round Three of his Good Growth Fund, our former landlords Young & Co’s Brewery, and our new host Islington Square. All the trustees are indebted to these partners and the dedicated work of Sofi Berenger and her staff team. There are still opportunities to become part of the new building by supporting our Angels of Angel production fund through sponsoring a stair and helping the charity to bring the best new theatre to Islington for years to come.”
London’s Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, Justine Simons OBE, said: “I’m delighted that, as a result of support and investment from the Mayor of London, the King’s Head Theatre has an exciting new home. The King’s Head Theatre is a hugely important space for the capital, giving opportunities for creatives and artists to grow, develop and learn; while their programming and productions serve as inspiration for theatres around the world. The new venue will help to nurture the next generation of creative talent, providing a platform for innovative theatre-makers, as we build a better London for all.”
The theatre will continue to focus on creating work with, by and for the LGBTQ+ community, with a renewed priority on community, educational and artist development programmes. This includes a partnership with Northumbria University, Live Theatre, Tron Glasgow and Curious Arts to deliver the first symposium and commissioning project on Trans performance in London, hosting showcases with Rose Bruford’s MA Queer Performance and Stanley Arts’ Queer Arts Commission. KHT will also continue to run an entirely free fortnightly workshop series KHT Skillshares, with intensive producing and training programmes to be announced. The team will continue to explore training opportunities for mid-career artists, in the wake of the successful pilot Trainee Artistic Director programme from earlier this year.