“I want to see more of the REAL London.” A number of people have said that to me. Tired of postcard images of Buckingham Palace and the London Eye. Real Londoners simply don’t live in those areas. Real Londoners live in real residential neighbourhoods that tourists most often never see. One of those places is Kilburn; an area known for its large Irish community that has over the years attracted new arrivals from just about every corner of the globe. Terms like ‘melting pot’ almost seem ridiculous if you’re from this area. The pot already melted a long time ago and cultural diversity is the norm. So why visit Kilburn? Well, apart from the local pubs, the Kiln Theatre without doubt gives you a very strong reason.
The theatre opened in 1980 on the Kilburn High Road, as the permanent home for the Wakefield Tricycle Company, a touring theatre group. It became famous in the local area and was known as the Tricycle Theatre. Originally, the plays shown at the theatre were often family-oriented and child-friendly but over time, the Tricycle became well known for showing plays that explored social, cultural and political issues. In April 2018, its name was changed to the Kiln. This was a largely unpopular decision as the name ‘Tricycle’ had become synonymous with Kilburn over the years. Despite much discontent, a campaign to stop the name from changing and a petition that attracted a lot of support, the renaming went ahead.
“Kiln as a word is associative with Kilburn. Kilns have a relationship with cultures across the world, they are a physical thing, melting pots associated with heat and cooking.” - Indhu Rubasingham (Artistic Director of the Kiln Theatre)
The Kiln Theatre says it wants to tell “stories from the people who don’t have a platform". The first time I came here was years ago and it wasn’t to go to the theatre. That's because the Kiln is also home to a small cinema often showing arty or culturally interesting films but not exclusively. I first came here to watch a documentary about American foreign policy in the post-9/11 era but I’ve often seen family-friendly films on the listings.
“We live in an area where today 84% of young people have English as their second language. We make theatre that crosses continents and tells big stories about human connections across cultures, race and languages.”
Kilburn is one of the most diverse neighbourhoods in the UK and is lucky to have a place like the Kiln. Coming here, you will experience a rare theatre in the real London, a place that’s fast-pace, interesting, diverse, chaotic and never short of remarkable stories. It’s probably the coolest theatre in London.
Like this story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.