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King’s Head Theatre’s inclusive vision for the future

New artistic directors’ plans for venue include an LGBTQ+ summer school

13 August, 2021 — By Caitlin Tilley

Kings Head new artistic directors Hannah Price and Mark Ravenhill

Not one but two new artistic directors have been appointed to lead the King’s Head Theatre.

Hannah Price and Mark Ravenhill will drive the inclusive vision of London’s first pub theatre at its new venue.

The theatre will move in the summer of next year to a new 220-seat theatre just next door to its current home, 116 Upper Street.

The creative duo pledge to produce work that is “joyful, irreverent, colourful and queer” and “allows us all to imagine a better future”.

Ms Price and Mr Ravenhill hope to continue the theatre’s legacy of championing minority voices and supporting young artists.

“There’s a generation of young people who missed out on their first break because of the pandemic. We’re excited to discover the new talent,” said Mr Ravenhill.

Theatres are experiencing “a moment of flux”, he said, adding that the coronavirus pandemic has been “a reset button” for the industry.

The job share will enable the pair to maintain ventures outside of the King’s Head. Ms Price said: “Both of us have very specific careers in other things as well: I’m a director, he’s a writer. I work a lot in technology, games and virtual reality. And Mark is obviously one of the UK’s most prolific playwrights. The King’s Head will be our major priority, but we can bring those other skills so markedly back into it, meaning that we can stay fresh.”

Plans for the venue include a summer queer school where young people who identify as LGBTQ+ will be taught a queer curriculum by guest teachers.

Mr Ravenhill said: “Maybe Mary Beard can come in and do a session on queer love in classical history, and someone can talk about Alan Turing… I think it would be a great opportunity for experts in the field to pass on their knowledge to young people and give them a sense of their history, their context in the world, and also things to do with their mental wellbeing. We could make the materials digitally available to regular schools too.

“Historically, the stories of gay men have tended to dominate and while we will continue to tell some of those stories, I’m looking forward to exploring the full spectrum of expe- riences symbolised by the rainbow flag.”

The artistic partners first worked together as co- directors of Ghost Story, a 2011 live television play for Sky Arts, written by Mr Ravenhill and starring Lesley Manville and Juliet Stevenson.

The year ahead will see a last push to raise the remaining funds necessary for the move to the new building.

Ms Price said the pair are passionate about helping young creatives find their voice, adding: “The new space is incredibly exciting. Our vision is all about innovation, pushing boundaries, and exploring different styles of work with an LGBTQ+ focus. I think we’re going to have enormous fun in that building and going forward.”

The final season in the King’s Head pub theatre, beginning in April 2022, will be the first pro- grammed by Ms Price and Mr Ravenhill.

“At the King’s Head theatre you can see everything from an opera to a musical to cabaret sketches to quite a serious play. So we want to keep and widen that variety,” said Mr Ravenhill.

The pair will join executive director Fiona English as joint CEOs.

The theatre secured £120,000 in June to safeguard its immediate future, including a £35,000 grant from Arts Council England and a huge effort from donors and supporters.

In 2018, the theatre received the go-ahead to switch to the bigger venue, as part of the £400million Islington Square redevelopment.

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