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Islington Tribune - by PETER GRUNER
Published: 7 August 2009

Simon Callow and theatre manager Clare Fischer
Hedgehog is a hit with Simon

ACTOR Simon Callow spoke passionately about his great love for small intimate theatrical spaces, where artists can connect with audiences, during a talk at The Red Hedgehog in Archway Road on Monday night.
Mr Callow, who lives in Camden Town, described the Highgate venue as one of his favourite spaces and a wonderful convivial place to mix food, drink, music and theatre under one roof.
The venue name, Mr Callow said, is inspired by the 19th century coffee house in Vienna which was a regular haunt of many classical composers including Brahms, Schubert, Schumann and Mendelssohn.
He said the first event he ever attended at The Red Hedgehog was a concert of Klezmer, or Jewish jazz, by a group of brilliant violinists called the Burning Bush. “It was wonderful, infectious, crazy music,” he added.
He told the audience that he hated the impersonal atmosphere of a big concert hall like the Wigmore Hall.
“I want to feel much more connected to the music and to the musicians,” he said. “We’re very lucky to have the Red Hedgehog. It’s a lovely idea to have music, food and drink all co-existing with each other. There’s a feeling of relaxation and ease. There are very few other places like it that I’m aware of.”
Mr Callow said he had known the manager of the venue, Clare Fischer, for many years, since they were at drama school together.
They attended the Drama Centre, which used to be in Prince of Wales Road and is now part of the University of London.
“We had classes in an old Methodist church,” Mr Callow said. “It was one of the happiest periods of my life. I threw off a lot of self doubts and uncertainties about my life. Suddenly I knew what I was going to do.”
He was delighted that as well as music the Hedgehog will also be running theatrical events.
“There used to be a place called Off-Stage on the Chalk Farm Road in the basement of a book shop,” he said. “I directed two small plays there right at the beginning of my career. It was the perfect setting.”
Talking about Camden Town, he said he was quite fond of it after living there for 25 years. But unlike Angel Islington and Primrose Hill, Hampstead, it was difficult to find the area’s community heart or soul.
“Although some quite wealthy people live in Camden Town, it’s amazing how poor the shopping is. There are a few good Greek restaurants and the Camden Brasserie, but not enough.”

* Red Hedgehog,
255- 257 Archway Road, Highgate, N6,
0208 348 5050.

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