THE OLD JOINT STOCK THEATRE
4 Temple Row West
West Midlands B2 5NY
IN A NUTSHELL
Old Joint Stock theatre is a professional 100 seat studio theatre with its own bar above the Grade II listed Old Joint Stock pub with great public transport links. The theatre and pub work symbiotically to bring the best pub theatre experience possible. Whilst the theatre has an eclectic programme to suit all tastes, one of its strengths is musical theatre with a live band and excellent sound system. They also boast a fine dining event downstairs on the pub’s mezzanine once a month, with live musicians; a pianist and two singers.
The Old Joint Stock Theatre has a variety of productions all year round, with a mix of in-house productions, co-productions and visiting companies. In house productions specialise in intimate musical theatre. The theatre programme is always full and features everything from new writing to musical theatre to improv comedy, LBGT to feminist to traditional theatre!
For theatre professionals –
Opportunities - OJS Open Doors offers an opportunity to local artists to be able to create and produce new pieces of work.
Hiring the theatre - Touring companies are offered a box office split.
For audiences –
Pre-theatre dining - You can book your pre-theatre dining when you buy theatre tickets. Two courses for just £18
Tickets - Prices for the theatre are kept as low and competitive as possible with a flat rate (no concessions) £10 - £15 and £20 for musical theatre (a bargain with larger casts and a band)
WHAT TO DO IN BIRMINGHAM
Birmingham is still a very developing city with a growing arts community. It already offers a wealth of things to do around Old Joint Stock. There is also a growing tram network which means that other activities around the city are becoming very easy to access. The current renovations and developments are gearing up for the Commonwealth Games in 4 years- time (2022).
10 things to do:
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Canal region, Brindley Place
St Philip's Cathedral
Bull Ring shopping
Broad Street bars and restaurants
Edgbaston Cricket ground
Cannon Hill Park
Black Country Living Museum
The Old Joint Stock is in the heart of the city centre with easy public transport links. It can be found in the Colmore area of the City. With your back to the doors of St Philips Cathedral, you'll see the pub directly opposite in Temple Row West.
While the pub itself has no parking facility, plenty of paid parking is available nearby.
Snow Hill station is just a few hundred metres away, with Birmingham Moor St and New St stations not far either.
A beautiful Victorian grade listed building with a domed roof, it won best pub in midlands in 2017. A real gem of a second-city pub, The Old Joint Stock serves up traditional food and ale in the stunning surroundings of a Grade II listed building. With its magnificent decor, welcoming atmosphere and studio theatre, no wonder it's one of Birmingham's best pubs! Fuller’s pubs are renowned for outstanding cask conditioned ale, but the drinks range extends far beyond beer. Home-baked pies are something of a speciality here at The Old Joint Stock and Head Chef has seasonal, local produce delivered every day. The magnificent décor of the Old Joint Stock makes it the ideal venue for celebrating a special occasion with some of the best function rooms in Birmingham.
DID YOU KNOW …
Built in 1862 by Julius Alfred Chatwin, the establishment was originally designed as a library before becoming the Birmingham Joint Stock Bank. Lloyds Banks then took ownership of the premises in 1889 - the very same year as Birmingham received official City status.
More than a century later, and The Old Joint Stock is a stunning pub - making a wonderful feature of the original fixtures and fittings. One of the best pubs in Birmingham and beyond, it is the UK's highest seller of London Pride.
The Old Joint Stock theatre was founded in 2006 run by Theatre Manager Ian Craddock who used to manager of The Crescent Theatre. The owners Fullers put £350,000 into refurbishing it to give a 105-seat black box theatre space.
The Old Joint Stock Theatre has a sister venue in Croydon, The Spread-Eagle Theatre.
Interview with joint Artistic Director Adam Lacey
Three people run the Old Joint Stock Theatre: The joint Artistic Director’s Adam Lacey and Karl Steele, along with the theatre and events co-ordinator, Rebecca Yates. The three of them also look after the pub events downstairs. Their mantra is to ‘take the theatre down to the pub and the pub up to theatre’. In the past the two have seemed like two separate entities.
The Old Joint Stock Theatre opened in 2006. Karl took over as head of events in May 2015 and was soon joined by Adam. Meeting Adam for the first time, its clear he’s one of those confident, warm kind of people with a friendly manner that gets you on good terms straight away. Adam explains that he grew up in a theatrical family. “I’ve been on the stage since I was four.” He lets this sink in before explaining his route into Old Joint Stock. “I did a drama degree in Aberystwyth and graduated in 2008 … was working as a freelance director more than anything else and then I’d been looking for something permanent to push my creative skills.” It’s curious that being “born and bred 10 miles down the road” he spent a year in London trying to “live the dream but the roads weren’t quite paved with gold.” Now having found something more permanent at Old Joint Stock he is “still living the dream, bringing the best intimate theatre into the heart of Birmingham.” Adam’s engaging smile and shiny eyes are even brighter at this moment. “I had done lots of studio theatre work, so I grabbed the opportunity with both hands to work in studio theatre and have opportunities to direct productions full time”.
Co-director, Karl Steele was always in professional theatre but when he was younger he also worked in retail. “High up, at a well-known stationer”, Adam explains. “During this period, he did bits of bobs of professional and amateur theatre on the side. Then making the leap to take over here, he brought both creative theatre expertise and business expertise into this role.”
At the time of the interview Karl was at Edinburgh Festival having produced and directed a production of 'City Love' which ran for the whole of the Festival. He was also searching for the shows that will form part of the next season’s programme at OJS. Last year Karl and Adam saw 120 shows between them over the month of the festival. Off the back of that they programmed 30 to 40 companies. This year Adam stayed back home because their in-house show, THE FULL MONTY was in full swing. Adam has a background in musical theatre. He worked as a freelance director for several years with local operatic groups, and touring companies based in London and Aberystwyth
He grew up around musical theatre locally, as a member of West Bromwich Operatic Society amateur youth group. He says that after graduating he set up MYK productions which was “myself, my sister, and my mate jack. It’s the same producing team for The Full Monty, now I’m working with those guys on a professional footing.” His sister is a choreographer and works in wardrobe. Close friend Jack, who now works at RSC, is musically gifted. The Full Monty had a reduced band of just seven pieces, led by Jack.
Not surprisingly in-house productions specialise in intimate musical theatre. Their most recent shows have been ORDINARY DAYS and TICK TICK BOOM. They also have an opportunity for developing artists with their OJS Open Doors. It gives a space and the opportunity to local artists to be able to create and produce new pieces of work. Adam explains how it came about: “Karl and I were sat at 9pm art working the next programme and we wondered why nobody is in the theatre. So many people in the midlands are desperate for space to create new work so why not merge both. Offer space/offer expertise, business space/creative space.”
Open Doors has so far helped eight companies. Three pieces have gone on to tour the UK and two other companies have new pieces of musical theatre. Adam sounds delighted, as he explains that “one of them has an inaugural performance here in November – the other one has just gone through its second phase of workshopping and is now being re-written before being workshopped again”.
Birmingham is a city with a growing arts community. Adam is conscious of this “ If you wanted to produce theatre in Birmingham a few years ago you had to be a member of the new Repertory Theatre. It was the only place doing creative writing, even in 3 years I’ve seen the arts community grow and grow.” Their programming with outside companies reflects this and caters to a wide audience base with traditional theatre, LGBT, feminist theatre, and shows about local history.
"We have recently programmed a variety of LGBT focussed theatre, such as Beautiful Thing and Gypsy Queen." says Adam. “Four Play is our next big production after Full Monty. We share a lot of programming with King’s Head almost inadvertently. Some things programmed at OJS are taken up by King’s Head in London.”
“We look for edgy fringe theatre but also one-person monologues which have got historical links. Mark Farrelly brought his show about QUENTIN CRISP to us as well as his show THE SILENCE OF SNOW: THE LIFE OF PATRICK HAMILTON. He loved the venue and did well here. We try to look after artists as much as we can here. We have also forged good relationships with companies. Fat Rascal are doing well with their female driven shows, BUZZ, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (with gender swap) and VULVARINE.”
“We’ve also got a following for more traditional theatre which sells really well. Tim Astley of Apollo Theatre company brought CULT FIGURE – KENNETH WILLIAMS. We have FUNNY FACES about Joan sims and Sid James catering to a slightly older audience.”
Finally, that idea of bringing the theatre down to the pub and vice versa? There’s a bar upstairs and theatrical events are held on the mezzanine in the pub. One of first things set up by the new management was to introduce a fine dining event on the first Thursday of every month with live musicians; a pianist and two singers. It’s an elegant dining experience with most of the songs in a slower tempo and a low key. “It’s not music hall but it has that sort of feel, it’s a showcase of talent” says Adam. “We have performers down in the pub and it lets some of our regular customers know we’ve got a theatre upstairs. We get people who’ve been drinking downstairs for 10 years who didn’t know about the theatre, no matter how many flyers and poster we’ve got downstairs.”
Events also include their Christmas by candlelight on the last two Sundays before Christmas. “Our in-house amateur theatre company (they’re a high standard), do one or two shows per year and all of them do songs downstairs, snow machines inside, busiest two days of the year. We extended it last year, Christmas eve, plus two Sundays before that.”
Adam would love to “knock down a wall” upstairs at the theatre to increase the size of the black box space but the magnificent OJS is grade II listed. “Knocking down walls is only a dream. We’re still developing audiences. We’re very happy with the last three years. We know of major of pub theatres in London and Manchester, but we don’t seem to be quite as known yet. We’ve got a different focus and we’re still developing. THE FULL MONTY was our first four-week commercial production. I’d like everything to be a four-week run. We’re spreading our name on the map. “
@September 2018 London Pub Theatres Magazine Ltd
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