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Chickenshed (also known as Chicken Shed or the Chicken Shed Theatre Company) is a British theatre company based in Southgate, London.


Chickenshed was founded by teacher Mary Ward and composers Jo Collins and Anthony Filby in 1974. It began in a disused chicken barn in Barnet, which is how it came to be called Chickenshed. Mary Ward started teaching in 1966 and was struck by how much better the children she taught could be reached through drama than any other subject and those who struggled in other fields shone in an environment where the work was created to fit those taking part rather than vice versa.[1] Chickenshed has a purpose built theatre complex in Southgate. The theatre has four performance spaces: The Rayne Theatre which seating 300, a smaller Studio Theatre, and Amphitheatre and a Bar/restaurant that regularly hosts music and comedy evenings. Since 2000, Chickenshed has established 19 'Sheds' in the UK, Finland, New York and two in Russia. These Sheds have been set up and trained by Chickenshed but then go to run independently, linked to Chickenshed by a shared vision of inclusive practice and philosophy.[2] Chickenshed is registered as a charity under the name The Chickenshed Theatre Trust. In 1996, company founder Mary Ward was awarded the MBE for Services to the Arts followed in 1999, with a Creative Britons Award, to acknowledge her 25 years of work with the theatre,[3] while co-founder Jo Collins was awarded the MBE in the 2001 New Year's honours, for Services to Music.[4] Chickenshed has performed at a number of public events, including Queen Elizabeth II's golden jubilee celebrations in 2002.[5] A show to commemorate 100 years of J. M. Barrie's children's story Peter Pan was staged by the theatre company at the Albery Theatre, London in 2004, in order to raise funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital.[6]

Artistic directors were Mary Ward from 1974 to 2015, and then Lou Stein on 4 April 2016 to 2021.[citation needed]

Notable alumni of Chickenshed's membership and education courses include Jamie Demetriou, Miriam-Teak Lee and Natasia Demetriou.


The first musical writers for Chickenshed were Jo Collins and Anthony Filby, who together formed Colby music, through which they published a collection of musicals that Chickenshed performed. The music team has since greatly expanded. In December 1997, Chickenshed released a single, entitled "I Am In Love With The World", performed by children from the theatre. At bookmaker's odds of 4/1, the song was one of the contenders to become the UK Christmas number-one single.[7] However it reached only #15 in the chart, remaining in the Top 75 for six weeks.[8] The song was included on Diana, Princess of Wales: Tribute, a charity album recorded following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Diana had been the royal patron of the theatre along with Dame Judi Dench.[3][9]

Late 2003 saw the release of The Chicken Shed Album, a compilation that marked the 30th anniversary of the theatre company. Contributors to the album included supporters of the organisation, such as Cliff Richard, Emma Bunton, Bob Hoskins and Kenneth Branagh, as well as three tracks by Chicken Shed itself. Jo Collins & Chickenshed recorded a song, "Talk Through Me" for the 2007 show tunes album Over the Rainbow.


This list of songs or music-related items is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (October 2021)

"Have A Heart At Christmas" (single, 1994)

  1. "Have A Heart At Christmas"
  2. "Rhapsody In Blue" (featuring Larry Adler)
  3. "I'll Build A Stairway To Paradise" (featuring Larry Adler & Issy van Randwyck)

"I Am In Love With The World" (single, 1997)

  1. "I Am In Love With the World"
  2. "Don't Know If I Believe In Christmas"
  3. "Little Tommy"
  4. "Chicken Menace"

The Chicken Shed Album (album, 2003)

  1. "Watch Me Come Alive" - Cliff Richard
  2. "As Far as the Eye Can See" - Gabrielle
  3. "I Am In Love With the World" - Chicken Shed
  4. "Sometimes" - Emma Bunton
  5. "The Wedding Dance" - Dmitry Sitkovetsky
  6. "Can I Love Him?" - Sam Brown
  7. "Bits and Pieces" - Bob Hoskins
  8. "Trail My Soul" - Chicken Shed
  9. "Looking For Love" - Richard O'Brien
  10. "Will It Happen To Me?" - Barbara Dickson
  11. "Elijah" - Kenneth Branagh
  12. "First Love" - Chicken Shed
  13. "Mad Little Sad Boy" - Kenneth Branagh
  14. "Still Waters" - Misty Oldland
  15. "We Need Each Other" - Elaine Paige
  16. "Dream a We Real Yew" - Kenneth Branagh


  1. ^ "Ambassador and Guardian".
  2. ^ "Set up a Shed". ChickenShed. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 4 September 2007.
  3. ^ a b "Entertainment Theatre founder wins award". BBC News. 18 May 1999. Retrieved 4 September 2007.
  4. ^ "Honours in the arts world". BBC News. 31 December 2001. Retrieved 4 September 2007.
  5. ^ "Thousands parade for Queen". BBC News. 4 June 2002. Retrieved 4 September 2007.
  6. ^ "Show marks 100 years of Peter Pan". BBC News. 19 December 2004. Retrieved 4 September 2007.
  7. ^ "Girl power triumphs for second Christmas". BBC News. 21 December 1997. Retrieved 4 September 2007.
  8. ^ Roberts, David, ed. (2005). British Hit Singles & Albums (18th ed.). Guinness World Records Limited. p. 104. ISBN 1-904994-00-8. Archived from the original on 18 May 2008. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  9. ^ "Our History". ChickenShed. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 4 September 2007.

51°38′40″N 0°08′43″W / 51.64446°N 0.14521°W / 51.64446; -0.14521