Shop Front Theatre:
a 13 year long project

“Shop Front Theatre anticipated a yet-to-be-written Arts Council strategy, Let’s Create, published a full ten years after it opened.”

Neil Darlison
Director, Theatre – Arts Council England

View the above video on our YouTube channel.

In 2009 Theatre Absolute founded the UK’s first professional Shop Front Theatre, in Coventry’s city centre. Taking over a disused fish and chip shop, and supported by Coventry City Council, they turned it into a thriving lo-fi community space which welcomed and nurtured artists, dancers, writers, poets, activists, film-makers and more. It became a beacon for new performative works, experimentation and dialogue. Visit Youtube to watch a film about it, made in 2017.

After running for over a decade the project closed its doors in 2022 before the building was demolished. 

This PDF publication, Shop Front Theatre: Archive 2009 – 2022, captures some of the spirit of radical adventure surrounding the 13 year-long project and hopes to inspire other artists to take chances and be open to opportunities offered by unexpected places, collaborations, and partnerships.

We couldn’t include all the lovely things people said when we asked for their memories, so below you will find longer form pieces of some of the testimonials within the publication, as well as links to various publications.

The Archive publication is available to buy in hardback form, particularly useful for institutional settings such as libraries and universities, at £70 plus p&p. Please email us to enquire.

The Very Revd John Witcombe MA MPhil – Dean of Coventry


Janet Vaughan – Talking Birds


Professor Helen Wheatley – Co-Founder, Centre for Television Histories (University of Warwick)


Angela Mhlanga


Jan Malatesta, Coventry Refugee & Migrant Centre


Lara J West, Jim Mordue, Renato Belindro