Founder and Editor of London Pub Theatres Magazine Heather Jeffrey talks about the publication’s support and showcasing of the fringe theatre scene
Raising the profiles of pub theatres within the capital, London Pub Theatres Magazine celebrates and supports our unique fringe theatre culture. Founded and edited by theatre maker Heather Jeffrey, the magazine has helped to raise the awareness of the various theatre venues that continue to shape the industry. Heather tells us more about what inspired her to create the publication, how theatres are currently adapting to restrictions with online shows, the awards initiatives created to celebrate the great work being created and her hopes for the publication moving forward.
Hi Heather, you’re the founder of London Pub Theatres Magazine, an independent publication highlighting our Pub Theatre scene. What inspired the creation of the publication?
Hi Lucy, very pleased to talk about my passion for theatre. The idea came to me after I had a four-week run of my play, Face to Face, at Drayton Arms Theatre. It quickly became apparent from conversations with friends that most people hadn’t heard of pub theatres. They had hardly heard of long running Old Red Lion, King’s Head or Finborough, let alone newer pub theatres. I knew I could do a good job of uniting and spreading the word about these wonderful venues. Here is a list of London Pub Theatres with links to their profiles.
The publication features reviews, interviews, articles and pub theatre listings and profiles. What can readers expect from the publication?
The answer is in two parts; who we are and what we want to achieve.
- We have a crack team of writers and reviewers. We are all experienced in some aspects of theatre craft and have a passion for theatre. Our level of expertise ranges from emerging artists to those who are at the top of the theatre profession. This is so valuable, as we are representing the whole gamut of shows and theatres from avant-garde, to traditional, emerging to top drawer theatre professionals.
- Pub theatres work hard to be as inclusive as possible and they hold a mirror up to the times in which we live. We are keen to be a part of that and to embrace change.
With theatres having to adapt to restrictions, you’ve also included a section highlighting shows that can be watched online on various pub theatre online platforms. How have you found responding to these restrictions?
Heart-breaking. I have a great deal of empathy with the theatres and companies who have had to cancel shows. In many cases the theatres have already put in place COVID-19 safety measures which have worked really well. So, to close the doors has been really tough when so much effort and love has gone into opening. It’s been wonderful to see other theatres and companies embracing online shows. We have had the great pleasure of seeing some of these and the high standards which some of them have achieved is extra-ordinary. At the same time many have been chaotic and experimental, so something new is happening here. It seems likely that online shows will be with us long term especially as they give access to those who cannot get to the theatre.
You also run the London Pub Theatre of the Year Awards, an initiative further highlighting our fringe theatre culture. What do these awards entail?
We have two sets of Awards, one for the venues and one for the companies which work in them. London Pub Theatre of the Year was inaugurated in 2019. Our team of reviewers are asked for their nominations and our Awards Panel makes the final decision. Celebrated actor, Richard Braine is our head judge. In 2020 we had our inaugural Standing Ovation Awards. These are based on our reviews and require two people to agree to a nomination. Any company who would like to be considered for this should request a reviewer. They can email their press release to me at email@example.com.
What have you learned about the Pub Theatre Scene whilst running the publication?
So much! The experienced Artistic Directors have a wealth of experience and expertise. So many of them are willing to share this and I have enjoyed interviewing them. Those who are less experienced show such passion, and spirit along with extra-ordinary ideas and boundless energy (they need it). They all give so many opportunities to theatre makers. Each theatre is quite unique. Each has a different flavour which can only be discovered by going to the shows. I am so privileged to be part of that and to experience what they have to offer first-hand.
What are your hopes for London Pub Theatres Magazine moving forward?
Here are our New Year’s Resolutions for 2021.
1. Add more reviewers to our team so that we can represent a broader cultural heritage.
2. Feature more theatrical productions about the climate crisis.
3. Feature more of our Off West End Theatre family.
4. Become the advertising partner of choice.
With over 70,000 visitors to the site each year (before the pandemic) and nearly 9,000 twitter followers we are the leading platform for pub theatres. We are very conscious that it is a big responsibility, especially with the advent of our new Awards. We are rising to that challenge with the help of the keen interest of the theatre sector and its audiences.
Questions by Lucy Basaba.
To find out more about London Pub Theatres Magazine, visit here…