Kenneth Chubb on founding and naming the Wakefield Tricycle

Listen to this clip from a 2010 interview with Shirley Barrie and Kenneth Chubb, where Chubb reflects on how they founded the company and came up with a name.

Audio transcription:

Kenneth Chubb: ‘Well, we went to England for a year theoretically, and I was going to direct for a theatre school that I’d made contact with. And when I got there I realised that this theatre school was fairly fly by night, and sort of run out of somebody’s apartment, and it wasn’t what I had expected at any rate. So, within a few months, I came across…
Shirley Barrie: You left
Kenneth Chubb: Well, I left the school, but I had met both some interesting students who were there, and some interesting teachers who were professionals and who were interested in performing as well as teaching. So… but these were the days when there was a lot of lunchtime theatre, and I went to the Pindar of Wakefield in Grays Inn Road, which was a famous kind of music-hall pub to see a show at lunchtime, and it had been cancelled because nobody had showed up. And the company I guess had despaired of being able to get an audience and y’know more or less cancelled the rest of the run. So I started talking to the publican and I said, ‘Well, what’s the deal here?’ and he said, ‘Well, you can have the room, as long as I get the money from the drinks…
Shirley Barrie: And my three regulars get to come to the back room.
Kenneth Chubb: Yeah, and my three regulars can sit in the back room, that you won’t keep them out of the back room, because that was where the stage was. So, I’d said give me a couple of weeks, and I approached a couple of the teachers and actors that I knew, and put on some Sam Shepard plays just to see how it would go. And in fact it went very well, I mean the timing of it was quite good. Time Out magazine was in Grays Inn Road at that time, just up the street, so their reviewer wandered down and said, ‘Hey, here’s a company doing Sam Shepard, we haven’t seen Sam Shepard before’. So, it just started to roll really. At the end of that, I mean we did it for about six months, and at the end of that season, somebody from the Arts Council actually came up to me after one of the shows, and said, ‘You do realise you can get money from the Arts Council for doing this?’ And I said, ‘No, I didn’t realise that’, and that kind of began a very long association with the Arts Council that, y’know, allowed us to build up the touring company and then eventually to open the [Tricycle] theatre. So that’s… the name, if you haven’t heard the story, really just came from us sitting in that backroom thinking we’ve got to call the company something, and the pub was called the Pindar of Wakefield and the only thing…
Shirley Barrie: There was a Pindar Jazz Band. There was the Abu Dabu Musical. So we thought we can’t use Pindar.
Kenneth Chubb: No, but what could we do with Wakefield? And the only thing I knew about Wakefield was, I’d never been to the town, but I did know they had a fairly full cycle of mystery plays, and I thought we can’t call it the Wakefield Cycle, the Wakefield Cycle is interesting, and there were three of us sitting at the table, and I just said ‘Maybe we should call it the Wakefield Tricycle Company’, and from there it stuck. And it stuck through Brent Council trying to persuade us we should call the theatre the Brent Theatre, and the Wakefield got dropped, but the Tricycle is still there.


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