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Soho Poly Theatre Kicks off With an Enchanting Week


The Soho Poly festival took place two weeks ago at the University of Westminster as a soft launch for future endeavors. Starting 16 June, performances by David Lance Callahan and Jackie Kay shook the basement as the following week welcomed the Badge Cafe, Disrupt Your Everyday festival, and musical performances by Ashaine White, Bennett Valuks, Awale Jant Band, and The Labourers. An overall successful week of performances and workshops, the Soho Poly continues to raise money for upcoming projects to continue renovations and expand the established space for all creatives.  



The History


The Soho Poly served as London's premier alternative theatre venue from 1972 to 1990. The University of Westminster's Riding House Street building houses the radical "lunchtime theatre," which was founded with the goal of democratizing access to the arts. Additionally, it offered marginalized writers—particularly women writers—a voice. Here, writers, performers, and playwrights including Bob Hoskins, Caryl Churchill, Hanif Kureishi, Simon Callow, and Timberlake Wertenbaker got their start. A large number of BBC producers from the adjoining Broadcasting House also ordered pieces that were first displayed at the Soho Poly. Many musicians such at Fleetwood Mac (pre-Stevie Nicks) and Jimi Hendrix performed at this underground venue, making it a magical location with a rich history.


The Soho Poly left the premises in 1990 and changed into the wildly popular Soho Theatre today on Dean Street. Despite being one of the last remaining places from the "Fringe boom" and a significant historical site, its former residence, the much-loved basement on Riding Street, was effectively abandoned.


Playwright and University Head of Creative Writing Dr. Matt Morrison rediscovered the place in 

2012. Through a dynamic sequence of events, including pop-up festivals, new plays, "Ghost Gigs," poetry readings and exhibitions, and the establishment of the Soho Poly Arts Club in 2020, he and co-Creative Producer Guy Osborn have now enhanced the University's reputation for public participation.

Disrupt Your Everyday

The Disrupt Your Everyday Festival took place on 21 June with the goal to increase creativity and add creativity to your ‘every day.’ As the summer solstice took place, two booths were set up outside of the University of Westminster’s Regent campus, one which allowed people to make their own badges, and another with merchandise and postcards, some of the prompts being write a short story, write a short letter to someone you love, or write a poem.

Both friends and strangers alike stopped by to make something creative and performances by Ian Bennett along with fantastic costumes a few drag queens made the festival front and center at Regent Street. 



Using the #disruptyoureveryday hashtag, attendees could post videos or images on Twitter or Instagram of their favorite parts of the festival. Free T-shirts and mugs were given along with the self-made badges.

Badge Cafe


One of the highlights of the week was the Badge Cafe run by Ben Walters. Originally established as a regular occurrence at Duckie in Vauxhall, it has quickly become in demand as a sideshow or icebreaker, a fun drop-in activity for people of all ages. All week different groups, organizations, and curious onlookers were welcomed to make their own badges. By the end of the week over 100 badges were made with many planning future visits to the Badge Cafe.

You can follow the Badge Cafe on Instagram @badgecafe or visit for more information, dates, and locations to make your own badge!

Musical Performances


A culmination of each week, both music and theatrical performances were put on by a number of acts. David Lance Callahan, an alternative/indie musician, performed Friday 16 June along with Jackie Kay a Scottish playwright, poet, and novelist who brought Chiaroscuro to the theatre.


Friday 23 June brought afternoon performances by Ashaine White and Bennett Valuks, an R&B/soul artist and an alternative-folk musician. While the evening brought Awale Jant Band, the coming together of The Jant Band, led by Senegalese singer Biram Seck and the group Awale which is the creation of French guitarist Thibaut Remy, forming a collective of musicians from Africa and Europe, and The Labourers, a pair of Irish guitarists singing folk tunes. Drinks and refreshments were served and ample time was provided for visitors to socialize and get to know other music lovers.

You can follow Ashaine White on Instagram @AshaineWhite and listen to her music here.


You can follow Bennet Valuks on Instagram @BennettValuks and listen to music here


You can follow Awale Jant Band on Facebook @ Awale Jant Band and listen to music here.


You can listen to The Labourers music here.


You can also follow the Soho Poly on Instagram @thesohopoly

As the Soho Poly theatre expands, the public can expect more events to come with the potential return of lunchtime theatre.



Aligning with Westminster City Council’s recovery of London’s West End, the Solo Poly is looking to raise over £500,000 from their fundraising campaign to fully restore the Soho Poly theatre and Exhibition Space as a major center for London’s post-Covid arts recovery and cultural revival. Capital works to fully restore the theatre to a high quality include: widening doorways to the theatre enabling disabled access, demolition and building a new staircase into the theatre basement, building an elevator that connects the basement theatre to the ground floor, creating a dynamic multipurpose Exhibition Space on the ground floor above, creating an accessible entrance route to the theatre, and installing a history wall with interpretation and digital panels. 


Naming opportunities are available for major support. Benefits include VIP tickets and priority seats at performances, sponsored programs, seat naming, names upon donor tree installation. Illuminated stair-risers and branded merchandise will also be available. 

For information please visit:  

To discuss the funding and creative recognition opportunities available, and to find how you can become part of Performing Arts history please get in touch at: [email protected]

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Tags: #sohopoly #universityofwestminster #disruptyoureverydayfestival


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