The multi-Boyz Award-winning Above The Stag is the UK’s only full time LGBT+ theatre company and has been serving up a mix of cutting edge and commercial plays, musicals and pantos for the best part of a decade since it launched above a pub in Victoria. This summer they are moving to a brand new space in Vauxhall, their third home, and Dave Cross met up with Creative Director Peter Bull to find out more and get a sneak peek at the work in progress.
Hi Peter, so here we are in what will be the new Above The Stag Theatre…
Yes, we are are taking over two arches on the Albert Embankment, a bit further along from Chariots and just past where Barcode used to be, opposite the MI6 building on the river.
And how is it different from your current home on Miles Street?
The actual floor space is three times the size and it will include two theatre spaces, a rehearsal space/cabaret room and a fully functioning, all-singing all-dancing bar, with a coffee area. Plus more dressing room space and office space etc.
What’s the idea behind the extra spaces?
We will have a bigger version of the main theatre space doing the same mix of shows we do now, but in the studio space we can put on pieces that are new or experimental that we can’t risk where were are now. Plus we have the third space where we can do cabaret type things if we want, although we are not going to be competing with our friends at The RVT – we would never do that.
So it really is a massive step up from Miles Street?
Yes, it is a major step and it continues the journey we began when we were literally above The Stag pub in Victoria, in that grotty old function room.
Was this always the masterplan?
Haha, no. I think if we’d had a plan it would never have worked. It’s just happened this way and is genuinely organic growth. Now we know that the best thing that ever happened was getting thrown out of the pub when it was demolished.
How long have you been working on the plans for the new site?
About 18 months up until now.
And it looks expensive..
This project is costing somewhere in the region of a million pounds. There’s no government or council money, it’s all been privately funded and from some very generous donors.
There’s clearly still a lot of work to be done, so what’s the target date?
We are aiming for the end of May, that’s Plan A. Since the awful Grenfell fire, councils are quite rightly taking extra time to check and sign everything off. But yes, I think we will be ready by the end of May. We want it to be all perfect.
And the final question is, what will be the first show in the new theatre?
Ah, well, we have something pretty special sorted, but I can’t tell you just yet – hopefully we can reveal that in next week’s Boyz. We’ve announced the second show, that’s Grindr – The Opera, and that’s running in the new space from July.