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Why the famous Tricycle theatre is being renamed the Kiln

Artistic director says changes are 'natural evolution'

12 April, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

Artistic director Indhu Rubasingham 

THE celebrated Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn High Road is no more – but fear not, culture fans, for it is set to reopen later this year after a multi-million-pound revamp as the Kiln Theatre.

The Tricycle has delighted – and occasionally horrified – critics and audiences since it became the permanent home for the touring fringe Wakefield Tricycle theatre company in 1980. But now the famous name has exited stage left as artistic director Indhu Rubasingham announced this week a new chapter in its story.

The announcement of the new moniker – made yesterday (Wednesday) – also saw Ms Rubasingham unveil a season of productions that includes five world premieres and one UK premiere. She added that over 10,000 tickets will be sold at £12.50 or under for shows including a musical version of Zadie Smith’s best selling novel about British identity, White Teeth.

Ms Rubasingham told the New Journal the company planned to build on what had made them successful in the past – and offer more programming space to in-house productions.

She said: “The major difference is we will be putting on more Kiln productions. We have perviously had a mixed body of work, with others coming in. As Kiln, we will be putting more on ourselves, more than ever before. That is staying true to our mission statement, putting on work of our own and being very ambitious.”

The Tricycle

Ms Rubasingham added that taking away the old name was part of the “natural evolution” of the theatre. She said: “One thing I really wanted to do was make our community feel at the very centre of the place – and we felt the name reflected our home in Kilburn. And a Kiln is also a space for transformation, so we felt it fitted in with our ideas of what we should be all about. We are hugely proud of our heritage, and the part we play in the community here. Kiln Theatre embraces that spirit, and everything that has come before in our history has brought us to this point, building a theatre and programme for the future.”

Continuing building work means the new stage and auditorium will not be used until September. Dating from the 1920s, it had been originally built for the Ancient Order of Foresters – but was soon used as a cinema and dance hall. It also offered space to staff from Barnet Council staff before a grant from the Greater London Council and Arts Council created the theatre.

And the founding players, the Wakefield Tricycle Company, had nothing to do with the Yorkshire town – rather the King’s Cross pub, The Pindar of Wakefield, where original members ​​​​Ken Chubb and Shirley Barrie would perform. Legend has it they added the name Tricycle as the company had only three members.

Ms Rubasingham added: “I feel today the way I felt the night before I started my first day in the job – there is a real air of excitement. This is going to be a better version of what is so loved about the old Tricycle.”

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