Carnaby Magazine ISSUE 6

From the hidden streets of Soho to Carnaby’s Kingly Court, theatre, music and entertainment are the thumping heart of London’s unique and varied cultural scene. We edit our pick of the best venues in town...

The project began in 2010 when James, in her role of Director of Soho Estates, decided that Walker’s Court required some serious jazzing up. “We needed to do something to regenerate it, because it was in disrepair and had become the centre of crime in Soho.” So the plan to renovate the old theatre was born. It would’ve been easy to build yet another office block in the new-look, new-generation Soho, but James insisted on keeping her grandfather’s legacy alive. “I pushed for us to include the reinstatement of the theatre within the wider development scheme. I see the relaunch as a way of celebrating him and enhancing the Soho community.”

At the heart of Walker’s Court Soho, some serious creative juices are bubbling. This enclave of Soho – an alley at the end of Berwick Street Market – has recently become home to London’s newest theatre – the Boulevard , and Fawn James , whose grandfather Paul Raymond was dubbed ‘The King of Soho’ is behind the overhaul of the area and the renovation of the Boulevard. “Entertainment was my grandfather’s ethos,” says James, who, along with her sister, inherited Raymond's property and publishing fortune when he died in 2003. “And it’s my mission to keep that going for him.”

To ensure that the theatre offers the desired mix of art, theatre and entertainment, as well as providing a thriving restaurant, bar and rehearsal space, James drafted in the talents of Rachel Edwards , the founder of the Tooting Arts Club, who will be artistic director at the Boulevard. “Theatre is part of London’s DNA,” says Edwards.“ It engenders understanding, discussion and ultimately empathy – and we need that now more than ever.”

Words by Laura Weir, Editor at Evening Standard

Boulevard Theatre opens Winter 2019.

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