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Tricycle row: Birmingham’s Kiln Ensemble ‘taking legal advice’ over Kilburn theatre’s controversial ‘Kiln’ name change

PUBLISHED: 13:51 10 May 2018 | UPDATED: 13:52 10 May 2018

Protest demanding that the Kiln Theatre's name is reverted to Tricycle Theatre (Picture: Martin Francis)

Protest demanding that the Kiln Theatre's name is reverted to Tricycle Theatre (Picture: Martin Francis)

Archant

The Tricycle Theatre’s controversial decision to rename itself the Kiln hasn’t just stoked neighbours’ ire – a theatre in Birmingham that’s already called the Kiln is seeking legal advice about it, too.

Protest against Tricycle Theatre's name change to Kiln (Picture: Richard Kates) Protest against Tricycle Theatre's name change to Kiln (Picture: Richard Kates)

Kiln Birmingham did not know the popular Kilburn theatre wanted to become its namesake until the plans was announced publicly last month.

More than 60 people crowded in front of the Kilburn High Road venue on Monday to show their visual opposition to decision they were not consulted on.

Added to this is more than 1,000 signatures across two petitions calling for the theatre to remain as the Tricycle.

Responding to the Tricycle name change on Facebook, the Birmingham group said: “We are in discussions with the Tricycle Theatre, now rebranded as Kiln Theatre, about the conflict and confusion surrounding their name change.

Protest against Tricycle Theatre's name change to Kiln (Picture: Richard Kates) Protest against Tricycle Theatre's name change to Kiln (Picture: Richard Kates)

“The first we heard of this was when the public announcement was made [on] April 12.

“Since then we have been investigating practical way of moving forward and, with the support of our board, have reached out to gather more information about this matter.

“We will be informing Arts Council England of our discontent and seeking legal advice.”

The theatre is standing by its previous statement to the Brent & Kilburn Times saying it is “sorry” the “new name doesn’t please everyone”, adding it “thought about it for a long time” and “consulted audience members, staff, our young company, our board and many members of our communities.”

Protest against Tricycle Theatre's name change to Kiln (Picture: Richard Kates) Protest against Tricycle Theatre's name change to Kiln (Picture: Richard Kates)

A spokesman added: “We’ve had an overwhelmingly warm response from our donors and supporters, from the theatre world and the people around us in Kilburn.”

But Richard Kates, an actor who organised the Bank Holiday protest and lives in Dunster Gardens, said: “I haven’t yet spoken to one person who has said they are in favour of this name change.

“It’s quite remarkable – not one, outside the theatre or in the High Road. Some people are so upset by it, it has such historical heritage – why would you change it? The Tricycle is part of the community and part of Kilburn.”

In her one interview with this newspaper, artistic director Indhu Rubasingham said she felt the theatre’s £7million regeneration project, paid for in part by the community, meant it was the “right time for a name change,” adding: “I wanted a name that rooted us in Kilburn’s community and that refects the company’s programming and ethos – that idea of energy and creativity.”

She faced controversy in 2014 over her refusal to host a Jewish film festival sponsored by the Israeli Embassy over the Gaza conflict.

Mr Kates added: “Even now people hold resentment towards her for that and there are people saying they aren’t going to support the theatre any more.

“We feel very strongly that if Indhu Rubasingham isn’t prepared to listen to the community then she’s not got a place within the community.

“If she wants to run a theatre with no interest in what the community wants, then she’s got to go.”

A spokesman for the Kilburn theatre added: “We have nothing further to add to our previous statement.”

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