The Pleasance Theatre Islington has been one of the most exciting Fringe theatres in London since it opened its doors in 1995, providing a launch pad for some of the most memorable productions and most renowned practitioners of the past decade and staying true to its mission of providing a platform for the talent of the future.
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 School. 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 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 1998
(co-produced with Guy Chapman; London and tour),
Richard II, 1997 and 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
(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
(2002; co-produced with Guy Chapman; London and tour)
Pleasance Islington 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 and most recently The Mighty Boosh 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 recently 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 and the StageSpace is to be seen in Peter O'Toole's latest film, Venus.
In 2004 the Pleasance set up the Charlie Hartill Special Reserve – a fund for new theatre – in memory of the late Charlie Hartill. In 2005 the fund enabled two productions to appear at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and supported Aladdin – The New Pantomime at the Pleasance Islington. We continued this support in 2006 with another two productions at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.