Executive Director: The King’s Head Theatre
Fiona English studied for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Loughborough University. Since graduating from English and Drama related courses, she has pursued a career in theatre, working in development and now as an Executive Director of a theatre. Here we find out about Fiona’s journey and Loughborough experience.
I loved my undergraduate Drama and Theatre Studies course at Loughborough so studying for my Masters in Performance and Multimedia there seemed the obvious choice. There are great facilities and a good number of students meaning you can easily access all the resources available from excellent staff to library materials. Loughborough was also incredibly flexible at helping me work part time while working full time.
It gave me incredible experiences not just in the lecture hall but campus wide: having such a rich extra-curricular experience at Loughborough was crucial to me being successful quickly as I had more real-world experience than many candidates I was against.
Would there be one piece of advice that you would give to current or prospective students looking to study the same course that you did?
Make the most of the sports and activities on campus - whether that is volunteering with RAG or joining a committee. When I hire staff, I am always looking for people who can prove that they have gone above and beyond the normal university experience and Loughborough is the perfect place to do that.
Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities during your studies? If so, how did this impact upon your Loughborough experience?
Yes so many! I was the Department Chair for Drama, sat on several committees ranging from social action to LSUTV and even played lacrosse (albeit not very well!) My university experience was jam packed and so fun and helped me when I got to 60-hour weeks in the theatre to know how to juggle a busy to do list, conflicting priorities and a hectic schedule.
My degree (and Masters) was amazing. In particular, the focus on practical theatre production experience proved invaluable in understanding how a creative process works outside of the lecture theatre.
Campus life is so beneficial to being involved in lots of activities - you can go straight from a lecture to the LSUTV production studio to spending the evening playing sport. It is incredible to have everything on your doorstep.
When I left university, I went to be a resident drama assistant at the boarding school Uppingham, which enabled me to try every role in the theatre from producing and directing to costume designing and teaching. After two years at Uppingham, I did the Graduate Trainee Scheme at the Cambridge Arts Theatre before joining the Development team at the Old Vic Theatre.
I was Head of Development for the Gate Theatre and then in 2017 I was appointed Executive Director of the King’s Head Theatre - the UK’s oldest pub theatre and an edgy, passionate, wild fringe theatre.
As Executive Director, I am responsible for the business side of the theatre - from challenging creative deals and vision to helping define the strategy of where our organisation is heading. I line manage the majority of our staff team and work alongside the Artistic Director to deliver our big vision for fairly made and progressive fringe theatre.
As my role helps define the future of our venue, I am also helping to shape the industry around us. Rather than getting angry about our industries’ lack of female playwrights, I just championed our venue to have a female playwriting season platforming the most exciting talent. We are nimble enough that when something does not seem right, I have the ability to help change it.
The King’s Head Theatre is moving to a much larger venue in 2020 with a 250 seat main theatre and an 85-seater studio making us one of the largest venues in London. I am excited to run that venue and continue championing emerging artists alongside the best work from around the UK.
Our production of La bohème from the King’s Head Theatre was recently nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Opera against two productions from the Royal Opera House. You do not need to be a giant in the industry to make artistically excellent, challenging work and walking the red carpet of the Olivier’s, surrounded by my wonderful team was a moment I will always remember.