Well! It’s midway through the third annual London Horror Festival, and I thought it was a good time to have a catchup with co-founder Stewart Pringle about this year’s event. We sat down at Assa Korean Restaurant for a pint and a chat.
LCS: So how did this festival get started?
SP: I did a Grand Guignol show with Tom at uni, then we decided to try to do one in London. When we got into the Courtyard Theatre, we had some spare studio space, so we saw about bringing in a few more companies. Next thing you know, we had a festival.
LCS: I went to a few shows the first year – for me, Halloween is the perfect time for scary theater. How big is the festival this year?
SP: We had twenty-five companies apply this year and accepted fifteen, including an opera company! We had to see if they were compatible with what we had available in terms of size and space and length of run. We like to have lots of short runs and give people an opportunity to try things out and be experimental.
LCS: The playgoers or the producers?
SP: Both, really. Our festival is aimed at people who aren’t really theater goers, but maybe fans of horror cinema or lit. We try to keep the tickets very affordable. And we’ve expanded out to families as well, with the Zombie Science lectures (supported by the Wellcome Trust, by the way). But it’s also a place for playwrights and theatre companies to try out new things, maybe a show that hasn’t been performed before, or branching out into a different format.
LCS: You do seem to be really devoted to new writing.
SP: Five or six of the shows we’re doing this year are new. And of course we’ve got the radio play competition, that pulls in people who haven’t even done plays before, or maybe never had their works staged, and it gives them a life online. It’s just sad, you have the Brentwood Prize (for new play writing) with 100 plays on the long list, and maybe 12 of them will be done all of the next year in London. We prioritize new writing and things that have never been staged before. We’re passionate about it.
LCS: So what do you think is going to be the most popular this year? I’m of course looking forward to getting my Cthulu fix next weekend.
SP: Well, House of Nostril was a sell-out, and was also very popular at the Edinburgh Fringe. Upcoming still is What Monsters Do. It’s based on Nicolas Vince’s book of short horror stories. It’s already nearly sold out.
LCS: Ooh, when’s that?
SP: The 25th – 27th of October. It’s showing the same nights as Call of Cthulu.
LCS (marks info in calendar): So what are next year’s plans?
SP: We’re going to continue the partnership with the Et Cetera – we’ve looked at bigger venues but the price is high and cost is what makes it accessible to smaller companies. And, of course, we’re going to continue to prioritize the staging of new works.
LCS: Good to hear. The last thing we need is another celebrity casting of some Shakespeare play.
SP: That’s a fact.
(The London Horror Festival continues at the Et Cetera theater in Camden – over the Oxford Arms, near the Camden Tube station – through October 31st, 2013.)