1. FINDING A THEATRE VENUE
Where to start
It isn’t advisable to go chasing the most prestigious theatres if this is your first production. Usually, you will need good reviews from reputable publications to have a chance of being programmed by them even on Sunday and Monday off peak slots.
1.Finding a venue
2.Raising the funds
3.Writing a press release and getting a reviewer
4.Connecting with and finding an audience
"I wanted to put on theatre so I ignored some of the important stuff"
London Pub Theatres Magazine came into existence to raise the profile of these exceptional theatre spaces. Their sheer versatility is staggering but one of the biggest advantages is that the performance space is so close to the audience and the pub intermingles the casual drinker with the theatregoers . Other reasons we love them so much is that they can respond to what’s going on in the world so fast, be a place for experimentation and show work that would be too risky to put into larger venues.
For those of you trying to make your way in theatre, it can be a frustrating and sometimes overly expensive venture. In this series we want to give you a summary of what you need to know to get on the first rung of theatre. If you’d like us to cover other topics, please get in touch with the Editor, Heather Jeffery firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope the series is helpful.
My Greatest Mistake
The best pub theatres for first timers
Choose a theatre which has the following benefits:
1.Clear hire charges, which are fixed rather than depending on how large an audience you can bring – unfortunately, a large audience can be much harder to access than expected. It isn’t always possible to predict so don’t fall down this pit.
2.A following and good social media. Some theatres already have an audience base who keep coming back because they love the venue. Others will help you to find an audience by publicising your show. However, you should note that you will have to work on finding an audience yourself as well. (How to do this is covered in our fourth article in the series)
3.Value added. Some theatres are run by professional theatre experts who can help you to develop as a company.
4.A good relationship with the pub. This can be hard to assess but try asking the pub whether you can put flyers on the tables, or a poster in the window. It might give you an idea of how well they are working with the theatre. A good relationship can help smooth the path and make sure you have a brilliant first-time experience.
These are three of the theatres we know and love which have the above benefits. These are well established theatres with excellent reputations.
Etcetera Theatre in Camden – This theatre is open access and plays host to a colossal variety of exciting, original, daring and critically acclaimed shows every year. They have been supporting new theatre-makers since 1986. It is currently under the management of Pierre. Pierre is a musician who brings all his experience of being a self-represented artist to the table, with a passion for the live arts. He fully understands the ins and outs of putting on a show.
The theatre is located right on Camden High Street, one of the busiest tourist and shopping areas in London only a couple of minutes walk from Camden Town tube station. The Etcetera works to establish a healthy and sustainable relationship with all incoming companies and are happy to provide support and advice throughout the production process. They work hard to help you publicise your show (although you will also need to have some social media presence for the best results – covered in the fourth article in our series).
Above the Oxford Arms
265 Camden High Street
London NW1 7BU
In brief: Capacity 42, fixed seating, lighting rig, PA system, dressing room, front of house staff, box office, technician available at extra cost
Hen and Chickens Theatre in Highbury & Islington – This venue is run by three actors, James Wren, Felicity Wren and Mark Lyminster, who really know the business. Naturally, they are extremely supportive of companies led by actors and they will help to nurture your company. It’s more about building a relationship. Many theatre artists return time and again to bring new work to try out here, before fully fledging with full productions.
They like to meet with all potential theatre companies to discuss all aspects of staging a production. Past reviews are helpful but not essential. The emphasis is on having a strong working relationship.
Hen and Chickens Theatre
109 St Pauls Road
London N1 2NA
In brief: Capacity 54, fixed seating, lighting rig, PA system, dressing room, front of house staff, box office
Bread and Roses Theatre in Clapham – As well as their prime slots, they have 1-3 night slots & kids shows. They curate their programming, so its best to get in touch early to have the best chance of getting a slot, although they do often have last minute availability. It’s conveniently located within walking distance of several Underground and Overground stations in London Travel Zone 2 (Clapham North, Clapham Common, Clapham High Street and Wandsworth Road) as well as many bus routes nearby. The venue has an emphasis on artistic quality with equality and diversity at the forefront of the theatre's programming. They also have a focus on new writing, underrepresented voices and distinctive work. The venue is run by a management team, Rebecca Pryle (Managing Director), Velenzia Spearpoint (Artistic Director), and Tessa Hart (Executive Director). All three are theatre professionals with experience as directors or/and actors.
Bread and Roses Theatre
68 Clapham Manor Street,
London SW4 6DZ
In brief: Capacity 40-60, flexible seating, lighting rig, PA system, dressing room, front of house staff, box office
Full list of pub theatres here
Festivals are excellent places to start. They often receive a lot of publicity and reviewers are keen to get involved.
Applications are currently open for the following festival:
Camden Fringe - Each August, Camden Fringe offers an unrivalled chance to see edgy, experimental and brand-new theatre. It has eclectic tastes including comedy, cabaret and drama. Applications are now open (January to March) for theatre companies who wish to bring work to the festival in 2019. In the first instance you must secure your venue by applying to the theatre of your choice. The pub theatres taking part are Etcetera theatre, Canal Cafe, Hen and Chickens, Upstairs at the Gatehouse, and The Lion and Unicorn.
Camden Fringe runs in August – Applications open January to March 2019
Various venues including pub theatres:
Etcetera Theatre, Canal Cafe, Hen and Chickens, Upstairs at the Gatehouse and The Lion & unicorn.
Other Festivals (whose submission dates have now closed/not yet opened)
Playmill – This is the King's Head Theatre’s festival of new work from companies committed to paying performers and stage managers the National Living Wage. This curated festival runs from 8 – 20 July at this prestigious venue, considered to be one of London’s top Off-West End Venues. King’s Head are looking for exciting, bold and ambitious emerging companies, whether they wish to show previews for the Edinburgh Fringe or just want to premiere a piece. Furthermore, they are looking for drama, comedy, musical theatre and everything in between, provided they are running for a maximum of sixty minutes.
Playmill runs 8 – 20 July 2019
King’s Head Theatre
Wandsworth Arts Festival – Held every May, Wandsworth Arts Fringe (WAF) love art in all its forms – theatre, music, dance, visual art and all things in between. They are an open access arts festival so everyone is welcome to jump on board! They’re also looking for venues – indoors and outdoors, pop-up and permanent – so if you find somewhere suitable get in touch with them. WAF is a fabulous opportunity to test new ideas, showcase your talent to the local community, attract new audiences and open new arts spaces. You’ll also benefit from lots of support from the organisers and other creatives. This includes networking opportunities, professional development sessions; online toolkits and guidance; 1-1 clinics for fundraising and other advice; in addition to the comprehensive publicity and promotion campaign of the Fringe platform as a whole.
Wandsworth Arts Festival
3 – 19 May – Open for registration each January but you must secure a venue, date and time for your event before you complete the registration process
Pub Theatre - Theatre 503
Pubs taking part - The Bedford in Balham, The Brewers Inn SW18, The Cat’s Back in Wandsworth, The Duchess SW8, The Four Thieves SW11, The Masons Arms in Putney, The Green Man Public House in Putney, The Half Moon in Putney, The Selkirk SW17, and The Prince Albert SW11
Clapham Fringe Festival at Bread and Roses Theatre, Clapham (held in September/October)
Disabled Access and other needs
Generally, the theatres are keen to work with you to enable you to work effectively in the space, as far as they are able. However, with regard to mobility, many pub theatres can only be accessed via fairly narrow staircases. There are some exceptions to this including Jack Studio theatre and King’s Head.
Next in the series
2. Raising the funds
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