The King’s Head Theatre was established in 1970. The most ethically and socially responsible fringe theatre in the UK, we are known for our challenging work and support of young artists. Last year 116,151 audience members saw a show of ours: 44,607 at our 110 seater home on Upper Street and 60,269 on tour in the UK and 11,275 internationally. At our home in Islington we had 774 performances last year of 90 different shows. We are committed to fighting prejudice through the work we stage, the artists and staff we work with and by producing work for minority audience groups. We believe in fair pay for all on the fringe and create accessible routes for early career artists to stage their work; work we are passionate about.
For 47 years the theatre was housed in the back room of the King’s Head pub on Upper Street in an old boxing ring and pool hall. Founded by Dan Crawford in 1970 it became known throughout his 35-year tenure as a breeding ground for new talent and great work. In 2010 Olivier Award-winning Opera UpClose Productions became the theatre’s resident company for 4 years, and Adam Spreadbury-Maher became Artistic Director.
The King’s Head Theatre has been a stepping stone in the careers of many of the UK’s most influential contemporary artists. Renowned actors like Maureen Lipman, Hugh Grant, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French and Richard E Grant all performed here, Sir Tom Stoppard, Steven Berkoff and Alan Rickman all began their careers at the King’s Head Theatre.
Our artistic policy is unapologetically broad; we welcome new work, critical theatrical revivals and accessible opera. From our core team of full time staff to visiting companies and creatives to the 87,031 audience members who saw a King’s Head Theatre show last year, people are at the heart of everything we do.
We have an unwavering commitment to ethical employment on the fringe and in our new home see ourselves as the hub of ethical fringe theatre across the UK; a unique and critical place in the capital’s theatre ecology. Every year, we produce 8 shows in-house alongside taking more work than ever before to regional theatres, arts festivals and high-profile London venues.
We champion and nurture new talent, with our pioneering Trainee Director scheme (winner of the Royal Anniversary Trust Award in 1992) still being run today. We host our annual Adrian Pagan prize for playwriting and a two week summer festival of new work from some of the UK’s most exciting emerging companies. The King’s Head Theatre is an inclusive and hard-working team. The whole team are encouraged to have the ownership over the theatre we make and the way the King’s Head Theatre behaves. It’s a truly rewarding working environment that values diversity of ideas, people and stories.
The future of the fringe is here.