Join the King’s Head in celebrating the final months of its 45th year with our inaugural new writing festival, #Festival45. Featuring the best of major UK arts festivals, we’ve opened our doors to 23 different shows from 23 exciting young companies over 5 weeks, offering them a chance to take part in this new, unique format and bring their work to one of London’s most diverse and dynamic Off West End venues.

These companies will all be taking part in an experiment with us, seeing if we can banish the myth that the festival format makes it impossible to pay actors – as with every show at the King’s Head, each company has signed up to our agreement with Equity, meaning every actor will be paid. This is a major shift in how most festivals run in the UK, and we’re proud to be lighting the way and proving that all actors, without exception and in whatever context, should be paid for their work.

We’re also proud to be reaffirming our commitment to new writing – alongside new work this year from Sylvia Freedman and Richard Cameron, and our new writing initiative the Adrian Pagan Award, we have a continuing commitment to this, the life-blood of British Theatre.

Alongside a wide varied programme, we are proud to present as the headline show Epsilon Productions’ award-winning The State vs John Hayes – a critically acclaimed one-woman show which incisively and powerfully discusses the death penalty. Writer and performer Lucy Roslyn’s striking one-act, psychological thriller is based on extensive research into real-life female killers and laced with dark humour. It comes to us after successful runs at the Brighton and Edinburgh Fringes, where it has won multiple awards.  

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Artistic Director of the King’s Head, Adam Spreadbury-Maher, says: "This is the first time we've ever done anything like this, and we’ve scaled the country to find interesting and unique new writing pieces from exciting companies. And everyone will be paid. This is an experiment for us - we’re feeling our way as we go – but we believe that this is how fringe festivals should be run, and if it’s successful – we’ll do it again!"

Now in its 45th year, The King's Head Theatre is celebrating this anniversary with an exciting new artistic policy after the departure of OperaUpClose, becoming a crucible for new writing and critical rediscoveries. Work from Irvine Welsh, Richard Cameron, Richard O'Brien and Arthur Miller, as well as Mike Bradwell directing for the first time since the 1970s, guarantees that if it's on here, you won't see it anywhere else. Led by Adam Spreadbury-Maher, second artistic director following Dan Crawford (who set up the King's Head as the first pub theatre in 1970), the theatre is the first unfunded venue to have an Equity agreement to pay theatre-makers fair wages since 2011, and continues to do so despite receiving no public funding.

26 October – 28 November