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The History of Giant Olive Theatre Company

On the 21st August 2008, George Sallis launched Giant Olive Theatre Company with Moliere's 'The Would be Gentleman' ('Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme'). The Theatre gods sent three nail-biting trials to the fledgling company in the final week of rehearsals, including the loss of two lead actors and the theft of costumes, however with George Sallis stepping in to play the fencing master, the show not only went on, but received critical recognition and four star reviews.

The Company went on to produce 'Adult Orgasm' by Dario Fo & Franca Rama, 'Antigone' by Sophocles and 'The Hostess Of The Inn' by Carlo Goldoni at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre in Kentish Town, during which time Giant Olive Theatre Company were offered residency at the venue.

Giant Olive has quickly developed a reputation for a strong and diverse programme, from Classical theatre, Commedia Dell'Arte, Dance, Contemporary plays and New Writing.

In November 2008, Ray Shell, former permanent fixture in the West End (Starlight Express, The Lion King) was invited to direct 'A Christmas Carol' at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre, which went on to receive rave reviews. 

Giant Olive welcomed its first Patron in 2009, Hugh Bonneville, who continues to support the ambition and heart of the Company.

“I’m honoured to be a Patron of Giant Olive Theatre Company, which has already firmly pinned itself to the London theatre map as a vibrant, small-scale but big hearted and ambitious company. It helps that I love olives.”

Giant Olive's Head of Dance, Antonia Franceschi (FAME, New York City Ballet) joined in 2009. Antonia choreographed and performed in 'POP8', with additional choreography from Rambert Dance Company's Mark Baldwin.  'POP8' secured Giant Olive's first Critics Choice in Time Out, and set the standard for high level dance at the venue.

Giant Olive Community Theatre Company was established in 2009, and the Company is dedicated to supporting new talent through its NTA Programme, which subsidises productions and provides professional training workshops.  The not-for-profit Company established 'Little Olives' in 2010, which provides Saturday morning drama classes for 6-11 year olds.  Little Olive's has recently moved to The Pirate Castle in Camden, and is going into its third term, led by Johnny Lock and Chloe Wheeler.

Giant Olive received its second Time Out Critics Choice in 2010, for Community Outreach project, 'ZIP:Gun & Knife Crime', as featured on BBC News Online.  With the support of The Big Lottery Fund, Camden Council and Choice FM, Giant Olive ran workshops in Camden with people affected by gun and knife crime as victims or perpetrators.   Working with the experiences and stories told, Giant Olive produced a completely original streetdance musical as part of the Camden Fringe Festival, with the production receiving critial acclaim and extending beyond the Fringe.  The team at Giant Olive are now in the process of trying to secure funding to take the ZIP Project on a National Tour, with the support of Local MP, Rt Hon Frank Dobson, Councillor Tulip Siddiq, Councillor Abdul Hai and Chief Superintendant Neil Wilson.

The Gaea Festival was launched inthe summer of 2011 to celebrate women playwrights, performers, directors and designers, and Giant received its third Time Out Critics Choice for Caroline Horton's 'I'll Show You Mine'.

Giant Olive continues to welcome a number of talented visiting companies to the venue, including The Gutted Film & Theatre Company, 'Fragile', '12 Angry Women', Soop Productions 'The Flying Monk', GETINTHEBACKOFTHEVAN, 'External' as recommended by Lyn Gardiner in the Guardian, and many more which can be viewed in our Archive.

"Giant Olive has made this Kentish Town pub a diary regular in recent years; their best work has been thrilling and achieves a vibrancy we see too rarely on the London fringe" What's On Stage, August 2010.

Productions include 'Antigone', 'The Hostess of The Inn' (another Commedia D'ell'Arte triumph by Carlo Goldoni), 'Oliver Twist', 'Kitty and Damnation' and many, many more which can be viewed on our archive, or in our gallery.

To contact a member of the Giant Olive team, contact info@giantolive.com


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