The show must go on: celebrating our local theatre

Pic: Cottonbro Studio

Theatre is increasingly seen as a dying art form, and the national figures seem to support this: almost half of the British population never goes to the theatre and the Arts Council of England has cut its funding to theatre by 20 per cent in the last three years.

But that’s not the reality of the Eastlondonlines boroughs, who seem to be bucking the national trend. Talented performers and captivating shows are hidden in every corner waiting for you to find them.

In honour of International Theatre Day on March 27, this three-day series celebrates all the gems that our boroughs have to offer, and reflects on the impact that theatre has on our lives.

Day 1 – March 25

Local theatre: a tale of survival against the odds – Theatre funding is in freefall, causing many venues and companies to close, but Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Lewisham and Croydon are bucking this national trend

Need an emotional adventure? Go to the theatre – Shadow puppeteers, dramatherapists and researchers reveal how watching live performances can make you more creative, more connected to others and more human

Oh yes it is! Easter Panto is a hit – Find out how the beloved Christmas theatre genre became an Easter tradition – and enter our competition to win a family ticket to Beauty & the Beast at Croydon’s Fairfield Hall this Easter

Day 2 – March 26

How theatre can transform the lives of children  – ‘He’s a boy. He’s 12. He lives on an estate. He likes baked beans…’: two local theatre companies – Immediate Theatre and Half Moon – explain how theatrical storytelling helps children navigate the pressures of their lives

‘When I walk on stage with my white cane, it is a revolutionary act’ – Ben Wilson lost his sight at 20. Now he is trainee artistic director at Extant, a company bringing non-visual storytelling to the London stage

How much do you know about theatre? – Are you a theatre nerd or a no-nothing? Find out with our short quiz

If theatre funding doesn’t improve, these acrobats won’t bend. They’ll break – Lina Johansson, co-founder and joint artistic director of Mimbre, Hackney’s women-led acrobatic theatre, on how even circus performers can’t defy gravity

Day 3 – March 27

‘To have more diverse audiences, you need more diverse plays’ – Playwright Somebody Jones on representation in theatre, LA vs Lewisham, stringent visas – and her advice for aspiring playwrights

‘Our work is accessible – but we want it to be liked, or loved, or hated, in the same way as all other work’– The Croydon theatre company Zoo Co puts deaf and disabled artists at the centre – not to be ‘good eggs’, but because inclusivity makes the best theatre

‘The fighters always go first’: how women are transforming theatre – Women are finally at the helm of the theatre world, both nationally and in the ELL boroughs. What does that mean for them and for theatre? 

Reporters: Saskia Henn, Aysha Imtiaz and Ilenia Reale

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