Finborough crowned London Pub Theatre of the Year 2020 as Standing Ovation winners announced

The highly-respected Finborough Theatre, currently celebrating its 40th anniversary, has been awarded the title London Pub Theatre of the Year 2020.

In a virtual ceremony (due to prevailing conditions) hosted by London Pub Theatres, the awards celebrate London’s historically thriving fringe pub theatre scene, this year also awarding its Standing Ovation Awards for shows presented in London pub theatres.

Here is a list of the winners and awardees

LONDON PUB THEATRE OF THE YEAR 2020, FINBOROUGH THEATRE, Artistic Director NEIL MCPHERSON

RUNNER-UP FOR LONDON PUB THEATRE OF THE YEAR 2020, WHITE BEAR THEATRE, Artistic Director MICHAEL KINGSBURY

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD to JOHN and KATIE PLEWS for their work UPSTAIRS AT THE GATEHOUSE

COMMENDATION FOR SERVICES TO PUB THEATRES to TESSA HART, REBECCA PRYLE, and VELENZIA SPEARPOINT at the BREAD AND ROSES THEATRE


STANDING OVATION AWARDS 2020– shortlists (winners in red) Comments in brackets after the show titles are evaluations and opinions of London Pub Theatres team only)

BEST PRODUCTION (London based companies)

CHAPLIN BIRTH OF A TRAMP by Ross McGregor at Brockley Jack Theatre

NUCLEAR WAR/BURIED AND GRACELAND at Old Red Lion Theatre

CALL ME FURY by Sasha Wilson (further devised by the company), Produced by Out of The Forest Theatre at The Hope Theatre

AT LAST by James Lewis & Alexander Knott at Lion and Unicorn Theatre

TRYST by Karoline Leach at Chiswick Playhouse

THE HOUSE OF YES by Wendy MacLeod at The Hope Theatre

BEST REDISCOVERY / ADAPTATION

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Charles Dickens) at Bridge House Theatre

THE WIND OF HEAVEN by Emlyn Williams at Finborough Theatre

MOBY DICK by Herman Melville adapted and directed by Douglas Baker at Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

BEST TRANSFER / SHOW ON TOUR FROM OUTSIDE LONDON

 THE VIOLENCE SERIES TRIPLE BILL by The Other Room Theatre (Cardiff) at Theatre503

A PRAYER FOR WINGS by Sean Mathias, transferred to The King’s Head from Swansea Grand Theatre

FOR OUTSTANDING THEATRICALITY

TRYST by Karoline Leach at Chiswick Playhouse

THE HOUSE OF YES by Wendy MacLeod at The Hope Theatre

BEST INNOVATIVE PLAY

EMPTY IN ANGEL by James Woolf at White Bear Theatre (skewering the gig economy – The set was a fixed-wheel messengers’ bicycle on rollers and two screens to project the GoPro footage provided by real-life courier Giovanni ‘Overkill’ Adebay)

MOBY DICK by Herman Melville adapted by Douglas Baker at Brockley Jack Studio Theatre (environmentalism, and active graphics, presenting a very big book on a very small stage)

CALL ME FURY by Sasha Wilson (further devised by the company), Produced by Out of The Forest Theatre at The Hope Theatre (looks at women and witchcraft through the ages, It’s thought-provoking & has outstanding musicianship)

THE NOISES by Jacqueline Saphra at Old Red Lion Theatre, Presented by Liam McLaughlin productions (audio-described introduction of the set, costume and movements plus other innovation to include the visually impaired – story told from the point of view of a dog)

COMEDY

OOPSY DAISY by Holly McFarlane at Katzpace Theatre

THE INVISIBLE MAN by HG Wells at Jack Studio

HAPPILY EVER POOFTER Created and performed by Rich Watkins at King’s Head Theatre

BEST NEW PLAY RAISING AWARENESS

NETFLIX & CHILL by Tom Stocks at Drayton Arms Theatre (suicide of young men)

EMPTY IN ANGEL (Chris) by James Woolf at White Bear Theatre (skewering the gig economy)

THE BEVIN BOYS (Richard) by Viv Edwards at Pentameters Theatre, Hampstead, 12-21 July 2019 (young men conscripted to go down the mines during the Second World War)

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!


Development work finally begins on Walthamstow Granada

Walthamstow Granada cinema pictured in 1961. Photo courtesy London Borough of Waltham Forest

Restoration work has finally begun at Walthamstow’s historic Granada Cinema, which is being converted into a large comedy venue.

Waltham Forest Council gained planning permission in June for its £25million redevelopment project to transform the deteriorating Grade 2-listed building into a 1,000-seat comedy and entertainment venue – set to be run by Soho Theatre. The main auditorium has been derelict for well over a decade, although the foyer was more recently used as the MIRTH pub.

Full possession of the building – which the local authority earlier bought for £17m – was secured in August, and representatives from the council and Soho Theatre visited the Hoe Street site last month to tour the works in progress.

Developer Willmott Dixon Interiors is leading the restoration, aiming to create “a modern, nationally-recognised entertainment venue that honours its unique heritage”. The new venue will include the main theatre, bar and a restaurant, plus community space. It is projected that the local economic benefit could be as much as £50m over ten years once it opens in spring 2022- or perhaps later considering the knock-on effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Simon Miller, the council’s cabinet member for economic growth and housing development, said: “This is a key milestone in the regeneration of this beautiful building. We are delighted to be working in partnership with Soho Theatre to give this venue the future it deserves, and to bring an outstanding contribution to our borough’s vast cultural offer.”

“The development will also provide local jobs, opportunities and a welcoming community space. These, combined with growing visitor numbers, will provide huge economic benefits to our borough for years to come.”

Read more about the Walthamstow Granada here


Victorian Society reveals top ten list of buildings most at risk in UK today

Brighton Hippodrome interior. Photo courtesy Theatres Trust.

The Victorian Society has released its list of the ten outstanding UK buildings most at risk for 2020. The list’s only theatre this year is the rare survival, the Brighton Hippodrome.

Brighton Hippodrome, designed by renowned theatre architect Frank Matcham, is the country’s finest surviving example of a circus theatre. The building was originally built in 1897 as an ice rink, but it was transformed by a major rebuilding into a circus in 1901. It was once a thriving hub of entertainment, but today it sits empty and rotting. The most spectacular feature is the circular auditorium with its richly decorated ceiling in the form of a panelled tent. Schemes for a multiplex cinema, a new hotel, spa and serviced apartments were all announced but never materialised as the building went through a variety of owners. In September 2020, the building was sold to Brighton-based Matsim Properties. The Victorian Society says “The building remains vacant and urgent works are required. These should be urgently undertaken to prevent further deterioration until a viable and sympathetic new use can be found for this impressive building”.

Griff Rhys Jones, President of the Victorian Society, saidBrighton is a thriving city with a vibrant culture. If anywhere can support such a unique venue it is Brighton. In Blackpool, the restored winter gardens are being used to revive the towns fortunes. With staycations likely to increase in popularity and Brighton’s easy access to London, surely Matsim Properties can develop a plan which makes sensitive use of this building? What is clear is that losing many more years with nothing happening risks any of the building surviving.

For the full list of 2020’s Most Endangered Buildings, click here


Take a free, virtual tour around London’s endangered Theatreland with London Open House

If you, like me, have been missing visiting TheatreLand , then here’s a great chance to take a leisurely stroll around one of our favourite areas alongside a Blue Badge tour guide- all from the comfort of your favourite chair!

Culture at risk: Theatreland – a virtual tour with a London Blue Badge Tourist Guide, happens this Saturday 25th September at 11.00am BST and is conducted via the Zoom platform.

I’ll “see” you there!

Click here to book onto the tour


The drama behind the drama: listen to the tortuous birth story of the National Theatre

Broadcast recently again on BBC Sounds, THE NATIONAL is a fascinating listen. Written by Sarah Wooley, this three-part drama about the creation of the National Theatre on London’s South Bank features all the main players: Sir Laurence Olivier, Kenneth Tynan, Lord Goodman, The Lord Chamberlain, Peter Hall and Harold Pinter as well as many others.

You can listen to THE NATIONAL by clicking here

(Please note – users outside the UK may not be able to access BBC online programming – but give it a try anyway!)