|Location||11 Clifton Terrace |
London, N4 3JP
|Public transit||Finsbury Park|
The Park Theatre opened in Finsbury Park, north London in 2013. It 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.
In November 2009, Artistic Director Jez Bond and Creative Director Melli Marie acquired a disused three-storey office building at 11-13 Clifton Terrace. Planning permission was granted in October 2010. The theatre was designed by David Hughes. 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.
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. The café bar also hosts occasional cabaret and songwriting performances.
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.
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), Andrew Keatley's The Gathered Leaves (July 2015), and Jonathan Lynn's The Patriotic Traitor (February 2016). Journalist-turned-playwright Jonathan Maitland's Dead Sheep and An Audience with Jimmy Savile both drew sellout crowds in 2015. Staging plays such as Archie Maddocks' acclaimed A Place for We in October 2001 reflected the theatre's support for writing from minority groups.
- 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.
- Musicals such as The Buskers' Opera (April 2016) and The Burnt Part Boys (August 2016). In June 2022, Harry Hill and Steve Park's musical Tony! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera) satirized the UK's most successful prime minister.
Innovative productions include Grounded which incorporated British Sign Language (October 2015), and Brainstorm (2015), an exploration of the teenage brain in cooperation with Islington Community Theatre, the Wellcome Trust and the National Theatre. 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.
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.
In-house productions and fundraising
Initially, as an unsubsidized registered charity, most Park Theatre plays were financed by external production companies, with the theatre as the host venue. However, Jez Bond's intention was always to stage more in-house productions, 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. 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. 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.
In July 2019, the theatre staged Whodunnit [Unrehearsed], in which celebrity actors including Gillian Anderson, Damian Lewis, Joanna Lumley, and Jim Broadbent donated their time for one-off performances in a murder mystery. The stars, unlike the rest of the cast, did not see the script or attend rehearsals before their performance, and had to "solve the crime in real time, with only an earpiece feeding them lines as they attempt to crack the case." Nor did the audiences know beforehand which celebrity would be performing on any given night. The play ran from 15 to 27 July, selling out at every performance. A repeat success was achieved in February 2022 with Whodunnit [Unrehearsed] 2, with a new plot and some of the same celebrities returning .
Park Theatre's Script Accelerator programme began in 2013, inviting producers or theatre companies to pitch a play they would like to develop. 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) and Michael Ross's Happy to Help (June 2016) were both Script Accelerator selections which went on to play in Park90's regular season.
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. It also runs amateur training programmes for local children and adults, and "relaxed performances" for people with disabilities.
In February 2019 the theatre initiated the Prism Project, offering free rehearsal and performance space to minority ethnic artists. Focused on providing support and professional opportunities to traditionally under-served groups within the theatre community, the project is open any artist from a BAME background. Its single eligibility criterion is that the writer (or a production team) have a script in progress that would benefit from access to rehearsal space.
- Cecilia Sundstrom, "Psychopaths, nudity and Maureen Lipman launch new Finsbury Park theatre", Hackney Gazette, 27 March 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
- Matthew Lloyd (2016). "Theatres in Finsbury Park, London: Park Theatre". www.arthurlloyd.co.uk - The Music Hall and Theatre History Website. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- "About". ParkTheatre. 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
- 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
- "Converting Spaces~Creating Theatres". Theatre's Trust.
- 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.
- Loeb, Josh (9 July 2010), "Oasis of arts planned for Finsbury Park's 'cultural desert'", Islington Tribune
- "Sir Ian McKellen and Rupert Everett visit Park Theatre as it moves closer to opening date". Islington Tribune.
- Bond, Jez (8 February 2016). "Truly, Madly, Alan". Park Theatre Blog. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- Spencer, Charles (8 July 2014). "Daytona, Haymarket Theatre Royal, review: 'deeply moving'". Retrieved 27 January 2017.
- Charles Spencer (11 October 2013). "Adult Supervision, Park Theatre, review". Telegraph. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
- Dominic Cavendish (17 July 2015). "The Gathered Leaves, Park Theatre, review: 'hugely impressive'". Telegraph. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
- Allfree, Claire (25 February 2016). "The Patriotic Traitor - a gripping encounter between Petain and de Gaulle". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
- Billington, Michael (6 April 2015). "Dead Sheep review - extremely entertaining bellwether politics". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
- "A Place for We review – three generations keep London's flame alive". TheGuardian.com. 12 October 2021.
- "Muswell Hill – review". TheGuardian.com. 13 February 2012.
- Mayo, Douglas (7 May 2016). "The Boys In The Band UK Tour". British Theatre. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
- Gardner, Lyn (5 May 2016). "The Buskers Opera review: anti-capitalism in rhyming couplets". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
- "Tony! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera), review — a premier painted in broad strokes". Financial Times. 16 June 2022.
- Gardner, Lyn (5 November 2015). "Grounded review - Deafinitely Theatre's drone-pilot drama has double impact". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
- Amy Smith (31 December 2014). "Brainstorm at the Park Theatre". Camden Review. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
- Rachel Halliburton (20 May 2015). "Hurling Rubble at the Moon & Hurling Rubble at the Sun". Time Out London. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
- Aleks Sierz (4 April 2018). "Pressure, Park Theatre review - David Haig terrific in his own drama". The Arts Desk. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
- Hemley, Matthew (30 January 2015). "Sonia Friedman, Young Vic and Southampton's Nuffield triumph at Stage Awards 2015". The Stage. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- "Young theatres need funding support to offset growing pains".
- James Morris (17 July 2017). "Sir Ian McKellen's one-man Park Theatre show raises £250k". Islington Gazette. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
- Walden, Celia (30 June 2017). "'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 1 August 2017.
- Ailis Brennan (28 March 2018). "This play explores what would happen if Trump was impeached". Evening Standard. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
- Maxwell, Dominic (17 July 2018). "Theatre review: End of the Pier at Park Theatre, N4". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
- Robert Dex (2 April 2019). "Gillian Anderson starring in 'unrehearsed' London play for charity". Evening Standard. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
- Eleni Cashell (30 May 2019). "More casting announced for Whodunnit [Unrehearsed]". Official London Theatre. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
- Billington, Michael (17 July 2019). "Whodunnit (Unrehearsed) review – secret celeb shines in murder mystery". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
- Smurthwaite, Nick (11 November 2019). "Meet the box office experts who help keep theatres' ticket sales on track". The Stage. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
- "New Date and Final Casting Announced for WHODUNNIT [UNREHEARSED] 2 at Park Theatre".
- Nicola Baird. "Melli Bond: Park Theatre's Script Accelerator 2016 opens". Islington Faces. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- Natasha Tripney (24 February 2014). "Storm in a Teacup". The Stage. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
- Gary Naylor (17 March 2016). "BWW Review: Happy to Help, Park Theatre, March 16 2016". BroadwayWorld.Com - UK Regional. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- Gardner, Lyn (7 February 2012). "Should theatres open up their accounts?". The Guardian. London.
- Snow, Georgia (6 February 2019). "Park Theatre creates BAME-led artist development initiative". The Stage. Retrieved 30 November 2019.