Raising the bar
All change at The King's Head. London's first fringe theatre is reinventing itself, with a little help from Joanna Lumley, Jonathan Miller and Mark Ravenhill. Adam Spreadbury-Maher, 28, the artistic director of The Cock Tavern and winner of the 2009 Peter Brook Empty Space Award, adds the pub theatre to his roster and plans to turn it into a producing house for opera and musicals. Lumley, who appeared on the tiny stage early in her career, has helped financially while Miller, having repeatedly renounced the West End in recent months, nails his fringe credentials to the mast with plans to direct at both pubs. "He came to see La Bohème and I went up to say hello," says Spreadbury-Maher. "Before I could open my mouth, he said 'I have to direct here'".
That pub-set Bohème (directed by Robin Norton-Hale) later transferred to Soho Theatre and The King's Head promises the same experimental approach (with prices capped at £15), including a Madame Butterfly set in Bangkok with ladyboys and an airline pilot Pinkerton, while Mark Ravenhill is writing an up-to-date libretto for Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea, with added Berlusconi.
Paradise lost in the East End
Has the Shoreditch art bubble burst? News reaches me of a high-profile defection from East to West in the shape of Paradise Row. The super-cool gallery is moving out of its echoing church hall home on Hereford Street into the heart of the West End arts establishment where it will rub shoulders with the Alison Jacques and Pilar Corrias galleries. Modern Art recently made the same move up town from Vyner Street in Bethnal Green to Eastcastle Street. "We just wanted more people to see the work," explains director Nick Hackworth. "It was getting increasingly difficult to get people to the East End. There was a certain heat generated for a while and that dimmed slightly." Paradise Row was founded in 2006 in the top-floor studio of the flat Hackworth shared with the artist Shezad Dawood. With fitting circularity, the artist – who so far this year has exhibited in Rude Britannia at the Tate and the Saatchi Gallery's Indian Art Today – will be the first to show in the new Fitzrovia home. Future exhibitions include a group show with Conrad Shawcross and Terence Koh and projects from Barry Reigate and the Chapman Brothers. Watch this space.
All manor of plans
Displaying a talent for reinvention to shame Madonna, Plan B is now turning his hand to movies. The tracksuit-wearing grime star turned sharp-suited Motown crooner/rapper, is currently filming his feature debut around his native Forest Gate in East London. Ill Manors is a gritty, day-in-the-life drama starring Four Lions' Riz Ahmed and Natalie Press (Red Road). It's not Ben Drew's (real name) first foray into film. Noel Clarke cast him in Adulthood on the strength of one of his first music videos and Drew has since followed Clarke as one of Screen International's Stars of Tomorrow. This year he appeared in Clarke's 184.108.40.206. Perhaps he'll let Noel sing on the Ill Manors soundtrack in return.
Come dine with him
Among the many quirky treats on offer at next week's Wigtown Book Festival, Jim Haynes's dinner party stands out. Haynes, an ex-US airforce pilot, settled in Edinburgh in the 1950s where he helped found the Fringe and the Traverse. For the past 30 years he has lived in Paris where his weekly open houses have become the stuff of networking legend, with Yoko Ono, Germaine Greer, Allen Ginsberg, and Philippe Petit, man on wire, calling in. Now he's recreating the supper club in the tiny Scottish town's fine second-hand bookshop. Salt marsh lamb and Cream o'Galloway ice cream are on the menu, but who knows who'll drop in for a bite?
Johnny be good
If you go down to your local charity shop next week, you could be in for a big surprise. To launch Oxjam, a month-long charity music festival, an East London Oxfam shop (the exact location is still a secret) will host a series of gigs among the second-hand books and clothes rails. On the bill are The Charlatans, Four Tet and, intriguingly, Johnny Borrell, offering a first-hand glimpse of his new post-Razorlight material.