Tricycle Theatre row: Rebranded ‘Kiln’ under fire as hundreds sign petition to bring back old name

Kiln Theatre's artistic director Indhu Rubasingham

Kiln Theatre's artistic director Indhu Rubasingham - Credit: Archant

Hundreds of anguished theatregoers have mounted a backlash against the renaming of Kilburn’s iconic Tricycle playhouse, calling it “a disgrace” and “pointless”.

The “Trike” in Kilburn Lane has been renamed the “Kiln Theatre” by artistic director Indhu Rubasingham and her team. She told the Times last week she felt the £7million regeneration project was the “right time for a name change” adding: “I wanted a name that rooted us in Kilburn’s community and that refects the company’s programming and ethos – that idea of energy and creativity.”

But hundreds of signatories have mounted an opposition to the new name. A public petition with 326 names says: “The attempt at re-branding is unnecessary, costly and squanders the established reputation of The Tricycle.”

Tim Foster, architect of the original Tricycle Theatre and former board member, told the Times: “Quite apart from my personal association, the Tricycle is held in a lot of affection by people in the area.

“The Tricycle or Trike stood for something. I can’t see the point of ‘Kiln’ and its meaningless branding.”

The theatre was built in 1980 and destroyed by fire in 1987. It was re-opened in 1989.

It faced controversy in 2014 over its refusal to host a Jewish film festival sponsored by the Israeli Embassy over the Gaza conflict.

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The name change has also caused an outcry on social media.

One, Richard Kates, wrote directly to the theatre asking: “Why was the public not contacted for their opinion on a name change?”

Amanda Bidgway added: “Not keen and neither is my elderly friend. [She’s] 93 and donates yearly to the Tricycle. Her comment to me was: ‘The Kiln means nothing to me. What’s the point in that?’”

Kilburn councillor John Duffy, a former board member, said: “The idea that marketing men, Brent Council and the board, can change tradition and history without any consultation with the residents is fundamentally wrong.”

A Kiln Theatre spokesman said audiences, staff, players, the board and “many members of our communities” were in fact consulted (despite which no one at this newspaper had been made aware).

“We are sorry our new name doesn’t please everyone,” he said. “We have thought about this for a long time. We believe it’s a name that speaks of creativity, inspires a sense of warmth and echoes the name of the place where we live. We’ve had an overwhelmingly warm response from our donors and supporters, from the theatre world and the people around us in Kilburn, along with record-breaking advance ticket sales for our new season.”

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