5 August 2021
King’s Head Theatre appoints artistic directing double-act Mark Ravenhill and Hannah Price to drive historic venue move in 2022 and to carry forward the inclusive vision of London's first pub theatre.
Mark Ravenhill and Hannah Price, who applied for the position together, said: "Along with many others, we've reappraised our priorities over the last year of lockdown. With the disruption of theatre work and its devastating impact on both institutions and freelance workers, we felt that now was the time to roll up our sleeves and be part of the rebuilding of our industry.
We're excited by the possibilities of producing new work at the King’s Head and of generating new employment possibilities and audiences as it prepares for its move to a bigger theatre in 2022. We want to produce work that is joyful, irreverent, colourful and queer and which allows us all to imagine a better future.”
This innovative collaboration is part of a new mode of working in the creative industries prompted by lockdown, where two people share one high-profile role, increasing creativity and productivity. Mark and Hannah will join Executive Director Fiona English as joint CEOs.
Fiona English remarked: “We are thrilled that Hannah and Mark are joining us. There have only been three artistic directors in the theatre's history since it was founded in 1970: Dan Crawford, Stephanie Sinclaire Lightsmith and Adam Spreadbury-Maher. Hannah and Mark are the perfect pair to continue their rich legacy. We all look forward to Summer 2022, which will see the opening of our new 220 seat theatre just next door at 116 Upper Street in the shortest move in theatre history.”
Mark said: “I’m excited to move forward the LGBTQ+ work of the King’s Head Theatre. 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 experiences symbolised by the rainbow flag. We want to be the home for a new wave of diverse queer theatre makers.”
Plans for the new venue, alongside headline productions of new work, include a summer Queer School in which young people who identify as LGBTQ+ will be taught a queer curriculum not included in mainstream schooling.
With her unique experience in both live and digital practise, Hannah Price will lead on a new innovative digital strategy for the King’s Head Theatre, building on the success of its first digital season Plays On Film.
Hannah said: "I’m so excited to be joining the King’s Head at this historic moment. Carrying forward the theatre’s legacy of championing unheard voices into the new building presents a huge and wonderful opportunity to create a space that is truly open and accessible to all. We will welcome the bold, the innovative and the technologically exciting: encouraging new voices and new forms both on our brand new purpose-built stage and in the digital sphere.”
The final season in the King’s Head Theatre, beginning in April 2022, will be the first programmed by Hannah and Mark: “We’re excited to be planning the final three months of work in a room behind a pub which for the last 50 years has been home to so much incredible talent. It’s that spirit which we carry into the new building and prepare the way for another 50 years of theatrical adventures.”
The artistic duo first worked together as co-directors of Ghost Story, a 2011 live television play for Sky Arts, written by Ravenhill and starring Lesley Manville and Juliet Stevenson. They subsequently developed the idea for Theatre Uncut, which Hannah took forward with Emma Callander, a major international project for producing new political plays including a national playwriting competition. She will be leaving Theatre Uncut in Co-Artistic Director Emma Callander’s capable hands.
They both directed plays at the King’s Head Theatre at pivotal points in their careers. Working with Adam Spreadbury-Maher, Mark directed and wrote Monteverdi's The Coronation of Poppea for Opera UpClose to bring the art form to a broader audience. Hannah directed That Moment by Dougie Blaxland at the King’s Head Theatre as one of her first professional productions.
The year ahead will see a final push to raise the remaining funds needed for the move to the new building. Chair of Trustees, James Seabright, commented: "We're almost there! Whilst covid scotched our ambition to open the new theatre in our 50th anniversary year, the new King's Head is tantalisingly close to opening. Together with this incredible new duo of artistic directors, whose vision for the future of the charity shone out from a phenomenally strong field of applicants, the trustees and I can't wait to make one final push for the funding we need to get a venue fit for Islington's theatregoers to enjoy for at least the next 50 years.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Mark Ravenhill: Artistic Director and Joint CEO
Mark Ravenhill's first play Shopping and F@@ing was produced by the Royal Court Theatre in 1996, transferring to the West End and touring extensively nationally and internationally. It was produced by theatres around the world including the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, the Schaubeuhne in Berlin and New York Theatre Workshop. He subsequently became an associate artist of the National Theatre where his work produced included Mother Clap's Mollyhouse and Citizenship. For Frantic Assembly he wrote Pool No Water, which has been widely translated and produced across the world. His play The Cut, starring Ian McKellen played at the Donmar. He was Writer in Residence for the Royal Shakespeare Company between 2012-2014 and his work there includes a new version of Brecht's Galileo and the recent collaboration with David Walliams and Robbie Williams, the musical The Boy in The Dress. His play The Cane was produced by the Royal Court in 2019. His work in music theatre includes the lyrics for Ten Plagues, a song cycle written for Marc Almond, a new English version (librettist and director) of Monteverdi's opera The Coronation of Poppea for the King’s Head and libretto for Elysium at Norwegian National Opera. Between 2005 and 2008, he wrote a regular column for The Guardian newspaper. His most recent work Angela was produced in lockdown as an audio drama by Edinburgh Lyceum, Pitlochry Theatre and Radio 3.
Hannah Price: : Artistic Director and Joint CEO
Hannah is a theatre director and Founder and previous Co-Artistic Director of Theatre Uncut. She also works across immersive events, VR and video games. Her work on video game CONTROL helped earn a record breaking 11 BAFTA nominations. Her VR/ 360 video work has been exhibited at the Barbican and as part of the Traverse Theatre’s online offering. She was Resident Assistant Director at the Donmar Warehouse in 2012-2013.
Directing credits: The Girl Who Fell, Again (Trafalgar Studios), End of the Pier (Park Theatre), Down and Out in Paris and London Live (Senate House), Permanence (Tarragon Theatre, Toronto), Escape the Scaffold (Theatre 503 & The Other Room Theatre), Run the Beast Down (Marlowe Theatre/Finborough Theatre), 1984 Live (Senate House), Rainbow Class (Bush Theatre/ Assembly Rooms), TEST (Scala Theatre, Basel), The Dead Monkey (Park Theatre), Boa (Trafalgar Studios), Cello/Fragile (Yard Theatre), Call to Prayer (Southwark Playhouse), Bud Take the Wheel, I Feel a Song Coming On (Shaw Theatre and Edinburgh Festival), That Moment (King‘s Head Theatre and National Tour), In a Very Real Sense (Soho Theatre), Portmanteau (Arcola Theatre and BikeShed Theatre, Exeter), That Moment (King’s Head Theatre) Loving Ophelia (Pleasance London). For Theatre Uncut, Hannah has directed Refugee (Teater Grob, Copenhagen), In Opposition (Paines Plough Roundabout), Knowledge is Power: Knowledge is Change (Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, and National Tour), Referendum Plays (Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh), TU Istanbul: Power and Protest (Dot Tiyatro, Istanbul International Theatre Festival and Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh), TU 2013: The Rise of the Right (The Young Vic) and The Cuts Plays (Southwark Playhouse, Soho Theatre, Latitude Festival and Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh).
Associate/ Assistant Director credits: Good Canary (Rose Theatre Kingston), The Machine (Manchester International Festival & Park Avenue Armory, New York), Julius Caesar (Donmar Warehouse & St Anne’s Warehouse New York), Berenice, Philadelphia, Here I Come!, The Physicists, Making Noise Quietly, The Recruiting Officer (Donmar Warehouse), Ghost Story (Sky Arts Playhouse Live).
Video Games credits: Control (nominated for 11 BAFTAs including winner of a BAFTA for Performance), Assemble With Care (winner of EE Mobile Game of the Year BAFTA, 2020) LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game, Steep, Warface, The Division, Dreadnought, Wild, Forza Horizon 4, The Unspoken, The Witcher, Fable, Stellaris, Laytons’s Mystery Journey, Hitman 2, Another Eden, Battletoads, Warhammer and many more, including various trailers and auditions for Side UK.
Fiona English: Executive Director and Joint CEO
Fiona has been the Executive Director of the King’s Head Theatre since 2017. She stepped up to become CEO in 2020. During her time the King’s Head, she has secured over £2m of fundraised income including achieving a major grant from the GLA, transformed its business model and been awarded the highest Healthy Workplace Award from the GLA of any London theatre. Before working at the King’s Head Theatre, she was the Head of Development for the Gate Theatre where she was nominated for the inaugural Emcees Arts and Culture Award for Excellence for her work on Major Giving. She has worked for the Old Vic, Greenbelt Festivals, Cambridge Arts Theatre and Uppingham Theatre in roles from marketing and development through to producing. Fiona is also a trustee of The Mono Box, a Regional Ambassador for parkrun and, outside of office hours, a keen ultra-runner. She’s a UKA qualified run coach and coaches athletes for both road and trail running.
About the King’s Head Theatre
The King’s Head Theatre in Islington - London’s first pub theatre - was established in 1970 by its first artistic director, Dan Crawford. Passionate about championing ethically produced fringe theatre, it is known for its challenging work and support of young artists. The King’s Head Theatre is committed to fighting prejudice through the work it stages, the artists and staff it works with and by producing work for minority audience groups. It believes in fair pay for all on the fringe and creates accessible routes for early career artists to stage their work; work it is passionate about.
The King's Head has provided a stepping-stone for many of Britain’s most influential contemporary artists, feeding talent into the West End and beyond, with alumni including Joanna Lumley, Katie Mitchell, Tom Stoppard, Hugh Grant, Dawn French, Steven Berkoff and Alan Rickman.
Subject to a fundraising campaign, the King’s Head Theatre will move into a custom-built space in the heart of Islington Square, directly behind its current home securing the future of the venue for generations to come.
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