The Takeover: From March – August 2023, the Kings Head Theatre will welcome four guest Artistic Directors, drawn from different theatre backgrounds, to take over and curate their own seasons at the iconic Islington pub venue. Each will have full creative control over curating the programme, supported by the staff at the King’s Head Theatre, with planned seasons ranging from arts and activism, new musical theatre to the best in drag and cabaret.
The guest Artistic Directors – Isabel Adomakoh Young, Tom Ratcliffe, Tania Azevedo and David Cumming – are all mid-career LGBTQ+ identifying artists from various disciplines.
As well as offering these four artists an opportunity to curate their seasons, they will also be matched with an industry mentor and receive training on practical aspects of programming, different approaches to artistic direction and curation and developing artists.
Part of the aim of the takeovers is to give mid-career artists interested in exploring the next steps in their careers towards artistic curation and direction a training opportunity where there are very few options for aspiring cultural curators.
All of the seasons are open for public proposals, and artists are encouraged to get in touch about their shows by visiting the website here for more information. The guest artistic directors are programming across a broad spectrum of styles and shows which work for 1 day to 3+ week runs.
Isabel Adomakoh Young
Title: Sight Unseen
Subtitle: Who should finally get their turn in the limelight? How can we take a fresh look at old narratives? What have we taken as read without ever asking ourselves why?
Isabel explains, “I’ve deliberately kept my concept broad because I’ve found an open mind and a keenness to learn have brought me to more discoveries than prescriptive targets ever could. I want to know what your unique minds bring to the table.
I believe art and activism can be symbiotic, and through them audiences can change their perspective and even their behaviour. I’m very open to both traditional scripted drama and less conventional performance pieces; performance art, puppetry, digital, music, scratch, comedy, cabaret… Let’s change the world from a pub theatre in North London.”
Isabel is a co-creator of PECS Drag Kings, AIM “Best Independent Festival” Brainchild, and the bestselling Lionboy book trilogy which was adapted and toured by Complicité. Isabel also starred as Juliet in Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s recent production of Romeo and Juliet where she won a BBTA award for her performance. Isabel performed at Kings Head Theatre in 2022 as part of the 50th birthday celebrations.
Title: A Queer Interrogation
Tom says, “From a Tom Ratcliffe season you can expect a new writing bonanza! I’m looking for plays and stories that have something BIG to say and ask important, necessary questions about the world we live in today. Expect to see plot driven stories with rounded LGBTQ+ characters. Alongside this I’m on the lookout for Queer variety artists for fun and loud late-night shows which give us cause for celebration!
I want to hear what you have to say and base a programme of work from your incredible stories”
Tom is a writer and the co-Executive Director of WildCard Theatre Company and is currently on attachment to Harlow Playhouse. His plays include Wreckage (currently playing at Turbine Theatre), Fame Whore (Kings Head Theatre), Evelyn (Mercury Theatre/Southwark Playhouse), VELVET (Pleasance Courtyard & UK/Ireland Tour) and Circa (Theatre de Meervaart, Amsterdam & Old Red Lion). Tom was awarded the JB Priestley Award for Writers of Promise in 2020. As well as his recent playFame Whore, Tom also performed in Kings Head Theatre’s production 5 Guys Chillin’.
Title: MT PRIDE LAB
The MT PRIDE LAB will be the King’s Head’s first ever seasondedicated to New Musical Theatre, showcasing LGBTQ+ artists and/or musicals telling LGBTQ+ stories.
Tania said, “New musicals need spaces where they can be nurtured and grow. And that is especially true of LGBTQ new musicals. This is where the MT PRIDE LAB comes in.
The Main Lab slot will see three new musicals playing “in rep” over the 6-week season. This will allow the creatives to listen and learn from audience reactions and have the opportunity, time and space to make changes to the piece during the run. For our audiences, it will offer the unique opportunity to be part of the development journey of the hit musicals of tomorrow.
Wrapped around the Main Lab, we will open our doors to 1 week runs, staged readings, gig-theatre, concerts and workshops, all focused on the new diverse voices making LGBTQ Musical Theatre. If this is you, get in touch – we want to hear from you.”
Tania is currently resident director on & Juliet and directed the world premier of But I’m a Cheerleader (Turbine Theatre) based on the cult LGBTQ+ film, for which she has been nominated as Best Director for an Offie Award and Broadway World Award. She also directed It’s Only Life (Union Theatre), Toyboy Diaries (Hope Mill Theatre),Tenderly (New Wimbledon Theatre), Paper Hearts (Upstairs at the Gatehouse and international tour),Piece of Silk and Hello Again (Hope Theatre) and was assistant director on Heathers (West End and UK Tour). Tania’s new musical A Mother’s Song, co-created with Finn Anderson, is set for a production at the Macrobert Arts Centre in Scotland in Feb 2023. Tania trained at Kings Head Theatre as a trainee resident director.
Title: Queer Futures: A festival of The Now Which Is Yet To Come
What may be the future of queer theatre? Of queer lives? Of a queer world? And in what ways is that future already upon us?
In its final four weeks of the Guest AD Takeover the King’s Head will host QUEER FUTURES: a festival of The Now Which Is Yet To Come – an eclectic snapshot of contemporary queer work that speaks to possibilities, to new ways of seeing, being, thinking and making. A smorgasbord of theatre, cabaret, musicals, comedy, panel chats and weird sh*t, QUEER FUTURES aims to be a place for queer voices to celebrate, congregate, whisper, wail, sing, scream, loathe, love, discuss, dissect and dissent.
David said, “Let’s hear what this old King full of young Kweens has to say about our collective futures. Long live the King’s Head!”
David is a writer, performer, director, composer and co-Artistic Director of SpitLip and Kill the Beast. One of The Stage’s 25 Theatre-makers of the Future, David is fast making a name for himself including as a co-writer and performer on the hit new musical Operation Mincemeat – which is set to transfer to the West End this March after runs at the New Diorama Theatre, Southwark Playhouse and Riverside Studios. David’s other writing and performing credits include Dog Show (Pleasance Theatre), Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster (Battersea Arts Centre and BBC 4) and as his drag alter-ego Cheryl Dole.
Senior Producer Sofi Berenger said, “King’s Head Theatre is delighted to have been supported by Arts Council England to be able to offer an alternative approach to the curation of our programme. It’s an opportunity to counteract the exclusive nature of theatre by removing the gatekeeper of programming, opening it up to other creatives who may not have had the opportunity. I’m so excited to be working alongside four incredibly talented artists and I can’t wait to see what they will do with their respective seasons. Providing space to new queer voices is something that the KHT strives towards. Expect boundary pushing, binary breaking, explosive new work from some of the country’s most exciting new artists.”
Artistic Director Mark Ravenhill (currently on extended sick leave) said, “I wish all the guest artistic directors and King’s Head Theatre all the best with their seasons, and am looking forward to seeing what comes next for them.”
The guest artistic directors’ seasons will be some of the final seasons ever programmed in the Kings Head Theatre Pub in its current building, London’s oldest pub theatre. More details on the new theatre space to be announced in due course.
The programme has been supported by Arts Council England.