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Stewart Pringle to leave Old Red Lion fringe theatre

The Old Red Lion Theatre

Old Red Lion artistic director Stewart Pringle is stepping down after three years, as the lease for the north London fringe venue is put up for sale.

Pringle said he was stepping down from the post to “pursue new opportunities”.

His departure coincides with news that the leasehold for the venue, which is currently managed by Damien Devine, is on the market for £550,000.

Devine told The Stage that he had put the lease up for sale to initiate conversations with potential buyers for both the leasehold and the freehold, which is currently owned by Punch Taverns.

Although Punch had previously put the freehold up for sale, it is not currently on the market. However, Devine said he suspected it would soon be up for sale again.

Devine told The Stage he wanted a “friendly landlord” who would buy the venue and offer him an extended lease on it. He currently has seven years left under Punch’s agreement.

Stewart Pringle. Photo: Alex Brenner
Stewart Pringle. Photo: Alex Brenner

He expressed concern that if a sale were left to Punch alone, a new buyer might not continue operating the theatre at the venue.

Devine said he was 100% committed to a theatre at the pub, and said he had four ongoing conversations with potential interested parties.

Meanwhile, Pringle said he was “going to miss the Old Red Lion Theatre terribly”.

“It has been a fantastic three years, has taught me a huge amount, and introduced me to some incredibly talented writers, directors, producers and performers,” he said.

He added: “I hope I’m leaving the venue in rude health, and know that the team we have built, from management though our frequent collaborators to our literary department, will continue to drive the theatre’s commitment to the most exciting new writing, and the most ambitious theatremakers will continue into the future.”

Pringle said a recruitment process would soon begin to find a new artistic director.

A spokesman for Punch said: “We took the decision to remove the pub from the open market. It therefore sits within our core estate and we currently have no plans to sell the Old Red Lion.”