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Old Red Lion: Theatre and an ‘old-style English boozer’

Next in our St John Street At Work series: The Old Red Lion Theatre at the top end of St John Street has enriched Islington culture since the early 70s, while the building itself is almost 600 years old. Tony Turran joined the team seven months ago as Bar & Venue Manager, moving from Essex to Islington, and tells us about the theatre today

The building (and the pub of the same name) has been on St John Street for almost 600 years
The building (and the pub of the same name) has been on St John Street for almost 600 years

“In my experience different theatre production companies, a lot of them are kind of hard to get into, the big theatres. I mean we have had shows transferred from here to bigger venues, so it’s important to give them that step to put themselves out there. Instead of taking a hundred-grand risk, they might be taking just a twenty-grand risk.

Pay What You Can Tuesdays, I think that’s massive. It can range from having maybe 10 pre-booked tickets and then suddenly having 50 people upstairs, which is a huge thing because you’re getting a lot of people that don’t necessarily have the money to spend – of course our normal tickets are only around £15, which is very reasonable for a theatre – but it opens it up then.

“I think it’s a huge part of the local community because this area is kind of littered with a lot of actors that have gone on to do stuff like EastEnders, just as an example, that were from this area, that came here and did shows in their early career. I think that’s where it fits in.

“I suppose the one thing is we’re independent. We’re not a chain, we’re not part of any big conglomerate …  I think we get support for that. We’re a family pub, so that helps an awful lot. And because we’re independent we’re kind of different from everybody else on the street. We’re not a gastropub, we’re an old-style English pub. And that’s probably strange for an Irish guy to be saying, but that’s what we are! We’re an old-style English boozer.

“This area, for someone that runs a pub, it’s grief-free. There are problems in almost every area and Angel isn’t one of those areas. Well, certainly not down this end.”

Bash: Latterday plays, a collection of three one-act plays, runs at the Old Red Lion until April 12. Tickets normally cost the standard price of £15 (£13 concession), alternatively you can drop by for Pay What You Can Tuesdays.

Follow the Old Red Lion on Facebook and Twitter.

If you have a suggestion for places to feature in St John Street At Work, please email stjohnstreetnet@gmail.com.


Written by Yannic Rack

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