As I started to write my latest round-up of queer shows to come, it was announced that the ground-breaking, wonderful queer theatre and cabaret venue Above The Stag has ceased trading with immediate effect. In a statement, Operations Director and Producer Andy Hill said: “The past five years in our beautiful Vauxhall home have been extremely happy and successful but financially very challenging.
”As a charity and the UK’s only exclusively LGBT+ theatre we are delighted to have staged award-winning productions, sponsored new talent and provided a rare cross-generational queer space for our community. Regretfully it has not been possible to come up with a feasible business plan for the next five years in our existing venue. Network Rail as a priority have to carry out a full back-to-brick safety inspection and repairs on the railway arches (within which the venue sits) within the next six months.
”The show is not over yet. Our benefactors have comitted to donating £2 milllion over the next five years subject to us finding a fit-for-purpose new venue and coming up with a feasible five-year business plan. The search for a new home begins now.”
Actor/writer/director/singer Tim McArthur told Scene: “I originally was Associate Artistic Director alongside Peter Bull for many years at its original venue and directed nearly all of its shows there. I returned to its latest site in 2020 to programme its Cabaret Lounge and it’s been a huge success.
“My latest play Deeper and Deeper opened recently for a week, having been in development at About The Stag for the past year. So I’m feeling sad and surprisingly have tears in my eyes as a masssive chapter in my creative life closes”.
I saw early shows at its Victoria venue, literally above The Stag gay pub, and in the last few years have laughed and cried at some superb productions at Vauxhall. It will leave a huge void in queer theatre-making in London and I can only hope they re-open this amazing space somewhere else soon. Look out for more news on this in Scene.
If you have any ideas for a new space for the theatre send them to firstname.lastname@example.org