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Islington Tribune - by ROISIN GADELRAB
Published: 9 May 2008

Artist’s impression of the £28 million complex including the new theatre
Shakespearean theme for foodies at theatre complex

Late-night sporting events to include wrestling and boxing

A MODERN Shakespearean food hall – modelled on Kensington’s famous organic superstore Whole Foods – will be the crowning glory of the underground Collins Theatre, it was revealed this week.
At a Town Hall licensing meeting on Monday the theatre on Islington Green won a licence to host late-night sporting events including three boxing and wrestling matches annually, plays and fundraisers.
The panel also granted the ground floor food-hall permission to serve food until 1am Monday to Sunday, making Islington Green a destination for foodies in Angel.
Project manager Hugh Rosen told this week how the ground floor, above the underground three-storey theatre, will emulate Kensington’s Whole Foods organic food hall with a modern Shakespearean market – but he did not explain what form it would take.
Speaking publicly for the first time, he said: “Imagine Whole Foods on one floor – very bustly, fresh food – with a Shakespearean theatre totally underground. The idea is that you can buy something from the bakery, take it away and eat it on the trestle table next to it.”
And, he said, trustees were hoping to make use of a film set donated by Dame Judi Dench within the complex.
“Dame Judi very graciously donated the film set of The Rose Theatre from Shakespeare in Love,” Mr Rose said. “But it wasn’t possible to use it in its entirety. What we built was an exact replica of the Rose Theatre, to scale, which used to take 3,000 people and will now take 600.”
He added: “Miramax spent £2 million building the Rose replica.
“Dame Judi thought it was too valuable to destroy.”
The theatre, which is 100th the size of the Emirates stadium and cost a fraction of the price, has taken almost twice as long as the football stadium to come to fruition.
Despite winning planning permission in 2002 – the very same day Arsenal’s developers got the go-ahead for their own scheme – Collins Theatre, on the corner of Essex Road, is not expected to open until at least Christmas 2009.
Under the terms of the new licence, trustees will be allowed to hold three boxing and wrestling matches a year, as well as a limited number of concerts, exhibition sporting matches and 24-hour plays.
The ground floor can open until 1.30am, while lower floors have a 3am licence, which will be allowed extensions on exceptional occasions.
The 600-seat theatre, which is below an as-yet unoccupied block of flats and cost £2 million to build, is expected to be open in time for Christmas next year.
But trustees are still unable to say what kind of theatre they want it to be.
Mr Rosen said: “We’re such a long time from opening to the public, it’s too far away to give any detail. We’ve no productions in mind, it’s too far away. It’s going to be a healthy mix. We did all this without a single penny of public money being put into our outstretched hands.”
He added: “Our business ethos is to do this privately. We hope it will conclude the restoration and revival of Islington Green.”
Neighbours living above Tesco on Islington Green had objected to the licence on the grounds that the building should be used as a theatre and not allowed to hold boxing and wrestling matches or serve alcohol late into the night.

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