Just a short stroll from Caledonian Road Tube station (only four stops from Covent Garden on the Piccadilly line) is an elegant courtyard, very similar to that of Pleasance Edinburgh. “One of Islington’s hidden gems” Guardian. There you will find the very splendid Shillibeer’s Restaurant, and just up the stairs, the relaxed atmosphere of the Pleasance and the Hamish D Bar.
Pleasance Islington is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in London, and brings the famous atmosphere of the Pleasance Courtyard to this sleepy corner of Islington all year round. In an industry that still views the West End as the pinnacle of things theatre, just 10 minutes away there is a mass of new writers, actors, and directors creating brilliant and inventive new work. The Pleasance, for many, is where it all begins, it is a laboratory for emerging new talent. Our priority is to provide a platform that supports that talent.
Pleasance Islington is home to three theatre spaces, both intimate and distinctly comfortable. Our 230 seat Main House has been host to Bill Bailey, the Mighty Boosh, Mark Thomas, Simon Amstell, Mitchell and Webb, We are Klang, and a whole heap of other comedians. In the Theatre programme highlights include, Red Shift’s Vertigo, The Alchemist, Tim Rice’s production of Blondel, Corpus Christi, Killer Joe, Stonewall and The Madness of George Dubbya. Our cosy 54 seat studio’s programme has included Danny Morrison’s award winning play, The Wrong Man, The Dog eared collective, Creative First Theatre, as well as comedy from if.commedie winner Brendon Burns, Ivan Brakenbury, Paul Sinha, Rhod Gilbert and Fat Tounge. The StageSpace is made possible by the generous support of The Stage Newspaper. Our Downstairs space is developed with Triple E and provides an innovative space for emerging talent.
Pleasance is a disability friendly theatre, and our facilities include wheelchair accessible toilets and lift access for the main house and foyer, an induction loop at the box office and an infra-red hearing system in both theatres. Large print copies of the brochure are available on request. Check our website www.pleasance.co.uk for accessible performances.
The Pleasance Theatre Islington has been one of the most exciting Fringe theatres in London since it opened its doors in 1995.The building that is now the Pleasance Theatre Islington was once the timber store for the London Omnibus Company and several original features (including a huge winch by the entrance!) remain to this day. More recently the building was home to the internationally renowned Circus Space. The theatre was designed by Pleasance founder Christopher Richardson and the conversion was completed in May 1996 with the help of one of London's first Lottery grants and a great deal of private support. In October 2003 the company office was moved upstairs to the atic, and in its place the StageSpace was created - a versatile studio theatre built to aid the development of new work and new ideas.
Since it opened with Young Pleasance's critically acclaimed premiere of Bus! The Musical in the winter of 1995 the Pleasance Islington has produced and housed literally hundreds of companies, productions and performers. Some of the more memorable shows include Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby (1996; co-produced with Guy Chapman; London and tour), Richard II (1997), Richard III (1998), Swan Song by Jonathan Harvey (1997; co-produced with the Hampstead Theatre), The Demon Headmaster (1998; London and national tour), The Animals of Farthing Wood (1998; co-produced with Green and Lenagan), Conversations With My Agent (1998), Small Craft Warnings (1999), Corpus Christi (1999; co-produced with Guy Chapman and Sarah Earl), The Donkey Show (2000; co-produced with David Babani; Edinburgh and West End), Nicholas Parsons' Happy Hour (2000-2005), Lady Salsa (2000; co-produced with John Lee; London and transfer), The John Wayne Principle (2001), New Boy (2002; co-produced with Guy Chapman; London and tour), The Gruffalo (2004/5 in association with Tall Stories Theatre Company), The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo (2005/2007; in association with James Seabright and the Cornish Theatre Collective), National Hero starring Timothy West and Nichola McAuliffe (2005; Edinburgh and tour), Imogen ( 2006; London and Tour) and Vertigo by Redshift Theatre ( 2007; London and Tour). Tim Rice’s revival of his musical Blondel. The Pleasance was the permanent home of the Unicorn Theatre for Children between 1999 and 2004, who premiered several productions with us during this period.
The Pleasance Islington has also houses some of the biggest names in comedy and the likes of Graham Norton, Al Murray, Harry Enfield, Bill Bailey, Ross Noble, Harry Hill, Mark Thomas, The Mighty Boosh, Russell Brand, Mitchell and Webb, David Strassman, Simon Amstell, Mark Watson, Russell Howard and most recently if.comeddie 2007 winner Brendon Burns have regularly complemented our comedy programme.
BBC Radio and BBC Television have been frequent visitors also, using the theatre either for recordings or as a location for filming. The Pleasance has featured in episodes of Love Soup and Spaced. The Pleasance has also been used as a location by numerous other film and television production companies such as Peter O'Toole's latest film, Venus.
In 2004 the Pleasance started the Charlie Hartill Special Reserve - a fund for new theatre - in memory of the late Charlie Hartill. Since 2005 the fund has raised over £70,000 which has enabled ten productions to appear at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, as well as our very own adaptation of Aladdin by Russell Labey, The award winning Failed States – by Andrew Taylor and Desmond O’Connor , and Tim Rice’s revival production of Blondel, all at Pleasance Islington.
The Pleasance is a registered charity.