Kilburn’s Tricycle Theatre transformed with £7m revamp and new name Kiln Theatre

PUBLISHED: 11:53 12 April 2018 | UPDATED: 08:23 13 April 2018

Kiln Theatre's artistic director Indhu Rubasingham

Kiln Theatre's artistic director Indhu Rubasingham


The Tricycle Theatre re-opens in September with a brand new name and an “ambitious” adaptation of Zadie Smith’s Willesden-set novel White Teeth.

What the Tricycle Theatre's new auditorium could look like. Picture: Chapman WaterworthWhat the Tricycle Theatre's new auditorium could look like. Picture: Chapman Waterworth

Following a two-year, £7million refurbishment, it will expand from 235 to 296 seats with a café, improved bar and foyer – and the name Kiln above the door.

Artistic director Indhu Rubasingham has spent the closure period programming a year’s worth of work including six premieres, a community play, a musical, and their biggest production yet, which vividly brings to life Smith’s portrait of the area where she grew up.

“We will re-open two years after we closed our doors and I felt this new beginning was the right time for a name change,” said Indhu.

“I wanted a name that rooted us in Kilburn’s community and that reflects the company’s programming and ethos – that idea of energy and creativity. We’re building on from where we have come and heading on the next stage of the journey.”

Zadie Smith. Credit: Dominique NabokovZadie Smith. Credit: Dominique Nabokov

Pledging to keep ticket prices “accessible” with 10,000 at £12.50 or under, Indhu said work by playwrights from India, France and the UK, tackling race, sexuality, religion and gender, would “celebrate both our local communities and our international reach”.

“It’s exciting to be opening the theatre with work which hasn’t been seen before,” she added. “It’s a mark of trying to do work that’s much more ambitious with wider reach.”

Stephen Sharkey spent four years adapting Smith’s debut novel, which the former Mallorees and Hampstead School pupil published in 2000 soon after leaving Cambridge.

“It’s the biggest show we’ve ever done with a cast of 14 and a live band,” said Indhu.

Tricycle Theatre, KilburnTricycle Theatre, Kilburn

“We are really celebrating this area and the melting pot of different communities – where nothing has melted and it’s all stuck together in a gooey mess. Zadie hasn’t been involved in the creative process but she’s very much on board”

Smith added: “I couldn’t be prouder than to know White Teeth has found a home at this new transformed theatre so close to my heart and so essential to the community it serves.”

The season opens with Alexis Zegerman’s Holy Sh!t – about two university friends applying to primary school for their four-year-old daughters.

“It’s about the lengths they will go to get their kids into the best school – in this case a church school – and how that touches bonds of family, faith and friendship,” said Indhu.

Following on from the twin successes of The Mother and The Father, is The Son, the third play in Florian Zeller’s trilogy. It has its British premiere at the Kiln.

“It’s a beautiful play about family breakdown and how it affects the teenage son,” Indhu explained.

Ishy Din’s Approaching Empty is “a drama with humour” set in a minicab office in the north-east in the aftermath of Margaret Thatcher’s death. “It’s about the friendship between two immigrants and the tension between them brought about by politics and business,” said Indhu. “It looks at the industrial communities that were devastated by Thatcherite policies.”

Samuel Adamson’s Wife is set between 1959 and 2042 and “follows familial links over several generations to look at how society expectations and ideas of sexuality and gender have changed over time”.

Set in Chicago in 1939, Blues in The Night stars Sharon D Clarke and is directed by Hackney Empire artistic director Susie McKenna.

“It’s an evocative, heartfelt piece,” said Indhu. “The songs are amazing. To have Sharon D Clarke singing in our theatre is so exciting. She could sing the telephone directory and I would pay to hear her.”

Community play A Friendly Society will examine the history of Brent and The Foresters Friendly Society, who originally occupied the Kilburn High Road venue in 1929. The multi-generational play will have 100 local participants and gather oral histories through a series of workshops and archive research.“It will look at this society which looked after its local community in a pre-social-services, pre-social-care society,” said Indhu.

The Tricycle grew out of Shirley Barrie and Kenneth Chubb’s Wakefield Tricycle Company, a fringe theatre based in the Pindar of Wakefield Pub in King’s Cross in the 1970s. When they moved to permanent premises in Kilburn High Road, it became simply The Tricycle.

Now Indhu says the “beautifully refurbished building will “futureproof” the famous venue.

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