A petition calling for the newly rebranded Kiln Theatre to revert to its old name of the Tricycle has garnered more than 450 signatures.
The decision to rename the venue has also been criticised by architect Tim Foster, who designed the theatre’s previous auditorium and said he was “dismayed” at the changes.
The theatre, in Kilburn, north London, announced last week it would be changing its name from the Tricycle after more than 30 years, following a major redevelopment.
Originally a home for the touring company Wakefield Tricycle, the theatre has been on Kilburn High Road since 1980.
Artistic director Indhu Rubasingham said the new name “absolutely locates [the theatre] in Kilburn” as well as “denoting a space of transformation, heat, energy and forging”.
However, the decision has attracted some criticism including from Foster, of Foster Wilson Architects, who is the architect of the original theatre and a former board member. In a letter to The Stage, Foster said he felt the new name sounded “overcooked”.
“I suppose the new management wishes to make a point about fresh beginnings but, having destroyed the old auditorium, which was admired around the world, to reject the proud legacy of the theatre’s many achievements over the last 38 years is distinctly ungracious. The Tricycle or ‘Trike’ stood for something, whereas ‘Kiln’ simply sounds overcooked,” he said.
A petition has also been set up demanding the name change be reversed, which had been signed by 471 people at the time of writing. In addition, a group of opponents gathered outside the venue on April 17 in protest.
Among those objecting to the plans is local resident and theatregoer Martin Fisher. In a letter sent to Rubasingham, seen by The Stage, Fisher said the decision had caused upset among the community and showed “total disdain for the feelings and opinions of the people who patronised the Tricycle”.
In response, a spokeswoman for the theatre said the name-changing process had included a consultation with audiences, the venue’s young company, its board and members of the community.
“We’re close to the end of a stunning and major architectural renovation and we have a brand new season of our own exciting productions and outreach work coming up. We are sorry our new name doesn’t please everyone.
“We believe it’s a name that speaks of creativity, inspires a sense of warmth and echoes the name of the place where we live. We’ve had an overwhelmingly warm response from our donors and supporters, from the theatre world and the people around us in Kilburn, along with record-breaking advance ticket sales for our new season,” she said.