As theatres begin to re-open everywhere, we thought what a good time to actually dig a little deeper into some of the wonderful fringe venues hidden away throughout London, and the people who make them tick.
First up then is The Bread and Roses Theatre. The theatre can be found above the pub of the same name, right in the heart of Clapham. It’s just a short walk from both Northern line and Overground stations, so there really is little excuse for not checking it out.
Need further reasons you should go? Well, we thought why not ask someone right at the heart of what they do to tell us more.
Hello there, shall we start with introductions?
Hello, I’m Velenzia Spearpoint, the Artistic Director of The Bread and Roses Theatre
Ok, we know where to find you, but what’s the size and layout style of your space?
We’re an intimate, 40-60 seat venue above the Bread and Roses Pub in Clapham. We have a flexible auditorium so productions can be staged end-on or as a thrust. For I and the Village (showing at the time of the interview), it’s in a thrust. Currently, we’re opening a reduced capacity welcoming 20-25 people each night, so it will be slightly different, but we very much hope you’ll come on this adventure with us.
What type of shows do you usually put on?
For the shows we produce ourselves, we choose from our Bread and Roses Playwriting Award every two years, after reading through around 500 submissions by talented writers. You can find out more here
The play we’re reopening with, I and the Village, sheds light on the Direct Provision System, for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Ireland. It sheds light on life behind years of waiting, unable to work or make any personal progress. I and the Village explores the consequences of long term confinement in a system designed to be flawed. A story of longing, survival and hope.
For all other shows, they are produced by visiting companies and we share the risk by offering a transparent box office deal. Artistic quality and representation of our societies’ real diversity are at the heart of the theatre’s programming with a focus on new writing, underrepresented voices, distinctive work and the development of new work and opportunities. If you’re interested in bringing a show, find out more here.
What can people normally expect to pay to see a show with you?
We are always aiming to keep prices as affordable as possible, for work in progress shows and our Clapham Fringe Festival, it can start from as little as £5, for full length show it tends to be a maximum of £15.
The kitchen is ran by the Uk’s first gourmet corndog company ‘Twodogs Down‘, American comfort food at its best. The pub has two beer gardens front and back and plenty of space inside to enjoy pre-show drinks. With happy hour Monday to Friday between 4pm and 7pm, it’s £4 on selected beers and wines. The pub also offers free live music on weekends, with genres ranging from blues, folk, reggae and more.
We’re sold, we’ll get our order in now.
Any particular highlights from your past shows? Any actors or shows start here that are your “they played here first” stories you tell everyone about?
Jamie Beamish who’s gone on to work in big tv shows, such as Bridgerton and Derry Girls bought his Cat The Play, co-written with Richard Hardwick, to us in the first year we were open in 2015.
What are the plans for the coming months then, what exciting shows have you got lined up for us?
- So apart from our very own playwriting award winner 19/20, I and the Village by Darren Donohue opening on the 25 May 2021, we’ve got an exciting line-up for the months ahead, highlights include:
- Stray Dogs by an aspiring up & coming Producer Justin Treadwell.
- There’s a trio of improv events, including where you can see Pippa Evans: And many many more, check out the full programme here & follow us on social media to be the first to hear.
So tell us just why we should all come along to see a show at The Bread and Roses? What’s your unique selling point?
As we briefly mentioned, we want to champion theatre-makers at all stages of their career and are one of the very few venues in London that operates in the business model (box office splits with no hidden fees) that we do. Obviously, we all still know far too well that starting out in theatre-making is very challenging, but audiences can come in the knowledge theatre-makers are being nurtured and supported as much as possible in the process.
Finally, and quite possibly the most important question of all, how comfy are your seats?
Haha, good question
Thanks, we thought so too, we’re going to ask everyone this in the future.
They’re okay, all chairs rather than stalls, so should be fairly comfy.
Our thanks to Velenzia for her time to chat about the theatre. If you’d like to see shows we’ve previously reviewed at the venue, you can find them via the below link. Please do also give the theatre a follow on their social media channels, it really does help. You can find them all below as well.