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Park Theatre (London)

Park Theatre
Photo of Park Theatre exterior, London, 2013.jpg
Location11 Clifton Terrace
Finsbury Park
London, N4 3JP
Coordinates51°33′57″N 0°06′31″W / 51.5657°N 0.1085°W / 51.5657; -0.1085
Public transitLondon Underground National Rail Finsbury Park
Construction
Opened2013; 6 years ago (2013)
ArchitectDavid Hughes
Website
www.parktheatre.co.uk

Park Theatre is a theatre in Finsbury Park, north London.[1] It opened in 2013 and describes itself as "a neighbourhood theatre with global ambition", offering a mixed programme of new writing, classics, and revivals. As well as the main auditorium seating 200, the building includes a 90-seat studio theatre, a rehearsal space and a Café Bar.[2]

Building

In November 2009, Artistic Director Jez Bond and Creative Director Melli Marie acquired a disused three-storey office building at 11-13 Clifton Terrace.[3] Planning permission was granted in October 2010.[4] The theatre was designed by David Hughes.[5][6] Following a campaign supported by prominent theatre figures such as Sir Ian McKellen and Alan Rickman, the £2.6m cost was met by private donors and by the sale of flats built above the theatre.[7][8][9]

The two auditoria, Park200 and Park90, have natural light which can be blacked out electronically. Park200 is a thrust stage with fixed seating on three sides, and can be configured for “theatre in the round.” Park90’s flexible seating can be laid out in a range of configurations. The Morris Space on the third floor is used for workshops, classes, and performances for up to 60 people. Backstage are three dressing rooms, a green room, wardrobe, offices and prop stores.[6] The Café Bar also hosts occasional cabaret and songwriting performances.

Productions

Highlights of the opening season included the UK premiere of These Shining Lives by Melanie Marnich with a cast featuring Honeysuckle Weeks and Charity Wakefield and the world premiere of Oliver Cotton's Daytona, starring Maureen Lipman, which then toured the UK.[10]

The theatre has had critical and box office successes with different types of productions. These include:

  • New British plays by British authors including Sarah Rutherford's Adult Supervision (September 2013),[11] Andrew Keatley's The Gathered Leaves (July 2015),[12] and Jonathan Lynn's The Patriotic Traitor (February 2016).[13] Journalist-turned-playwright Jonathan Maitland's Dead Sheep[14] and An Audience with Jimmy Saville both drew sellout crowds in 2015.
  • Revivals such Richard Bean's Toast (August 2014) and David Hare's The Vertical Hour (September 2014), both of which premiered at the Royal Court Theatre. A successful revival of Muswell Hill by Torben Betts played at the theatre in February 2015.
  • UK premieres or revivals of acclaimed North American plays such as Almost, Maine (December 2015) and The Boys in the Band (October 2016), the latter subsequently transferring to the West End.[15]
  • Musicals such as The Buskers' Opera (April 2016)[16] and The Burnt Part Boys (August 2016).

The theatre has also presented innovative work such as Grounded which incorporated British Sign Language (October 2015),[17] and Brainstorm (2015), an exploration of the teenage brain in cooperation with Islington Community Theatre, the Wellcome Trust and the National Theatre.[18] Avaes Mohammad's double bill about radicalization in the UK Hurling Rubble at the Sun/Hurling Rubble at the Moon was premiered in May 2015.[19]

Many Park Theatre plays have moved on to the West End, most recently the Second World War drama Pressure, which following a sold-out April 2018 run in Park200 went on to the Ambassadors Theatre in June.[20].

Park Theatre won The Stage magazine's Fringe Theatre of the Year Award for 2015.[21]

In-house productions and fundraising

Reflecting the theatre's unsubsidized status as a registered charity, the majority of plays at Park Theatre have been financed by external production companies, with the theatre acting as the host venue. From the beginning, however, Artistic Director Jez Bond's intention was to stage an increasing number of in-house productions as funds become available, leading the theatre to devise innovative fundraising strategies.

In July 2017, long-time supporter Ian McKellen worked with the theatre to present a one-man show, Shakespeare, Tolkien, Others & You in Park200, donating the entire proceeds of the nine-performance run to the theatre.[22][23] With this significant cash infusion, along with the support of the newly formed Producers’ Circle of high level donors, the theatre began producing or co-producing a greater proportion of shows in 2018. It began in May with Robert Schenkkan's post-Trump dystopia Building the Wall, directed by Bond.[24] The second in-house production of 2018 was the world premiere of Danny Robins' The End of the Pier, directed by Hannah Price, beginning in July.[25]

In April 2019, the theatre announced an innovate fundraising production called Whodunnit [Unrehearsed], in which celebrity actors such as Gillian Anderson, Damian Lewis, Joanna Lumley, Clarke Peters and Sandi Toksvig will donate their time for one-off performances in a murder mystery. The stars, unlike the rest of the cast, will not have seen the script or attended rehearsals before and will "solve the crime in real time, with only an earpiece feeding them lines as they attempt to crack the case."[26][27] Nor will the audiences know beforehand which celebrity will be performing on any given night. The play will run from July 15 to July 27.

Script Accelerator

Park Theatre's Script Accelerator programme began in 2013, inviting producers or theatre companies to pitch a play they would like to develop.[28] Six are selected each year. Each producer selects actors and a director, and is given professional advice and working time within the building to develop the script. The four-weeks process culminates with a 20-minute critiqued presentation of each piece to an audience in Park200. Some scripts have gone on to full productions. Hot Coals Theatre Ensemble's Storm in a Teacup (February 2014)[29] and Michael Ross's Happy to Help (June 2016)[30] were both Script Accelerator selections which went on to play in Park90's regular season.

Social responsibility

Like many of London’s independent theatres, Park Theatre aims to be both a good neighbour locally and a progressive social influence. With donor support, it discounts a substantial number of tickets for local residents and schools each season, and runs acting classes for local children (Playground Players) and adults (Park Players). In 2016 it began a Reminiscence therapy programme for people affected by dementia and their carers.

The theatre has a policy of transparency and open-book accounting for both in-house and incoming productions, in an effort to ensure that actors are properly paid.[31] It also runs amateur training programmes for local children and adults, and "relaxed performances" for people with disabilities.

References

  1. ^ Cecilia Sundstrom, "Psychopaths, nudity and Maureen Lipman launch new Finsbury Park theatre", Hackney Gazette, 27 March 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  2. ^ Matthew Lloyd (2016). "Theatres in Finsbury Park, London: Park Theatre". www.arthurlloyd.co.uk - The Music Hall and Theatre History Website. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
  3. ^ "About". ParkTheatre. 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  4. ^ Marshall, Tom (29 October 2010), "Finsbury Park theatre's cue to open", Hornsey, Crouch End and Muswell Hill Journal, Archant Ltd., archived from the original on 4 November 2010
  5. ^ "Converting Spaces~Creating Theatres". Theatre's Trust.
  6. ^ a b Price, Mark James (26 August 2010). "Laurel Leaf House, 11-13 Clifton Terrace, Islington, London N4 3JP Application ref: P101570" (PDF). The Theatres Trust. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  7. ^ Loeb, Josh (9 July 2010), "Oasis of arts planned for Finsbury Park's 'cultural desert'", Islington Tribune
  8. ^ "Sir Ian McKellen and Rupert Everett visit Park Theatre as it moves closer to opening date". Islington Tribune.
  9. ^ Bond, Jez (2016-02-08). "Truly, Madly, Alan". Park Theatre Blog. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
  10. ^ Spencer, Charles (2014-07-08). "Daytona, Haymarket Theatre Royal, review: 'deeply moving'". Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  11. ^ Charles Spencer (2013-10-11). "Adult Supervision, Park Theatre, review". Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-02-13.
  12. ^ Dominic Cavendish (2015-07-17). "The Gathered Leaves, Park Theatre, review: 'hugely impressive'". Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-02-13.
  13. ^ Allfree, Claire (2016-02-25). "The Patriotic Traitor - a gripping encounter between Petain and de Gaulle". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-02-13.
  14. ^ Billington, Michael (2015-04-06). "Dead Sheep review - extremely entertaining bellwether politics". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-02-13.
  15. ^ Mayo, Douglas (2016-05-07). "The Boys In The Band UK Tour". British Theatre. Retrieved 2017-02-13.
  16. ^ Gardner, Lyn (2016-05-05). "The Buskers Opera review: anti-capitalism in rhyming couplets". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-02-13.
  17. ^ Gardner, Lyn (2015-11-05). "Grounded review - Deafinitely Theatre's drone-pilot drama has double impact". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-02-13.
  18. ^ Amy Smith (2014-12-31). "Brainstorm at the Park Theatre". Camden Review. Retrieved 2017-02-13.
  19. ^ Rachel Halliburton (2015-05-20). "Hurling Rubble at the Moon & Hurling Rubble at the Sun". Time Out London. Retrieved 2017-02-13.
  20. ^ Aleks Sierz (2018-04-04). "Pressure, Park Theatre review - David Haig terrific in his own drama". The Arts Desk. Retrieved 2018-08-05.
  21. ^ Hemley, Matthew (2015-01-30). "Sonia Friedman, Young Vic and Southampton's Nuffield triumph at Stage Awards 2015". The Stage. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
  22. ^ James Morris (2017-07-17). "Sir Ian McKellen's one-man Park Theatre show raises £250k". Islington Gazette. Retrieved 2017-08-01.
  23. ^ Walden, Celia (2017-06-30). "'I'm all in favour of death': Ian McKellen on Corbyn, the fight for gay rights and his one-man show". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2017-08-01.
  24. ^ Ailis Brennan (2018-03-28). "This play explores what would happen if Trump was impeached". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2018-04-04.
  25. ^ Maxwell, Dominic (2018-07-17). "Theatre review: End of the Pier at Park Theatre, N4". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2018-08-05.
  26. ^ Robert Dex (2019-04-02). "Gillian Anderson starring in 'unrehearsed' London play for charity". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2019-06-15.
  27. ^ Eleni Cashell (2019-05-30). "More casting announced for Whodunnit [Unrehearsed]". Official London Theatre. Retrieved 2019-06-15.
  28. ^ Nicola Baird. "Melli Bond: Park Theatre's Script Accelerator 2016 opens". Islington Faces. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
  29. ^ Natasha Tripney (2014-02-24). "Storm in a Teacup". The Stage. Retrieved 2017-02-13.
  30. ^ Gary Naylor (2016-03-17). "BWW Review: Happy to Help, Park Theatre, March 16 2016". BroadwayWorld.Com - UK Regional. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
  31. ^ Gardner, Lyn (7 February 2012). "Should theatres open up their accounts?". The Guardian. London.

External links