Comedy school and fringe crew hit their decade

A FRINGE theatre and a comedy school held celebrations at the weekend to mark their 10-year anniversaries

Tan Parsons

A FRINGE theatre and a comedy school held celebrations at the weekend to mark their 10-year anniversaries.

The Comedy School in Camden Town commemorated a decade of working with schools and prisoners, while the Gatehouse Theatre in Highgate held a party looking back on its own success story.

Comedy School director Keith Palmer said: "Our aim has always been to use comedy as a means of education, rehabilitation and communication.

"We do a lot of work with prisoners, using comedy to guide them back into education, and we also work with the Metropolitan Police to get across safety messages in schools.

"Our anti-knife campaign, It's No Joke, has been running successfully for five years now. Last year we worked with 30,000 young people. Reaching this point is a great milestone. I think we've been successful because we're doing something that everybody likes to do. I don't know anyone who doesn't like to laugh.

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"Our party on Friday included guests ranging from ex-prisoners we've worked with, to senior police officers. It was a celebration of the last 10 years and a look forward to what we hope will be another successful decade for us."

The Comedy School, in Gloucester Gate, also runs courses for up-and-coming comedians.

Meanwhile, in Highgate on Sunday The Gatehouse Theatre threw a party at its North Road base to mark its 10th anniversary.

Ex-newsreader Richard Baker was there and artistic director John Plews said: "It's wonderful to reach the 10-year mark. Ever since we opened we've produced a mixture of plays, musicals and opera.

"I think that's one of the reasons we've been so successful - we put on shows our local audiences appreciate."

He added: "At first we were a bit worried Highgate residents weren't the right target audience for a pub theatre. I think back then a lot of people would never have dreamt of going to a small theatre like this because the West End is so close.

"We've brought an intimate type of theatre to the area and we could never have been so successful without the help of our audiences, so I want to thank them."

Mr Plews has run the theatre with wife Katie since they bought the first floor of the building in 1997. But the property has a long history as a performance venue.

In 1896 it opened as a Victorian music hall and was famous for shilling ordinaries - when punters were treated to a meal and a show for a shilling.

For a while the venue became a well-known silent cinema and then in the 1960s it was transformed into a jazz and folk club.

It was a function room in the 1970s and 1980s and was boarded up in 1988 until Wetherspoons took over the pub in 1993.

o The Comedy School is a not-for-profit organisation and is appealing for contributions. For more information visit www.