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London Theatre News Today: Monday 21 June

Hira Desai

By Hira Desai First Published 21 June 2021, Last Updated 21 June 2021

Hackney Empire announces plans for 2021

Hackney Empire. London. Credit Morley Von SternbergHackney Empire. London. Credit Morley Von Sternberg

After an unprecedented and uniquely challenging year of closure, the Hackney Empire team are pleased to announce plans for reopening; looking ahead to the iconic East London venue’s 120th Anniversary in the autumn, continuing to focus on its commitment to community and championing of young people, alongside an exciting programme of work for audiences to enjoy in the autumn. Plans for the year include the following highlights:

  • LEONA LEWIS cements long standing relationship with the iconic East London venue by officially becoming a Patron, supporting and mentoring the young people in the Hackney Empire: Creative Futures programme.
  • ALTER EGO – East London’s renowned talent showcase for young people, will celebrate ten years this year, with a filmed performance by previous finalists to be released on 23 July 2021.
  • ARTIST DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (ADP), now in its twentieth year, to take 40 young people aged 14 – 19 from across London to stage a new production of a new play inspired by Romeo & Juliet (Title TBC) on the main stage from 31 July – 14 August 2021, co-directed by Yamin Choudury and Kane Husbands, and written by Sumah Ebelé, a 21 year old emerging actor and writer from East London.
  • From September, Hackney Empire plans to open its doors to a non-socially distanced audience, presenting an eclectic mix of comedy, theatre, live podcast, family entertainment, and opera.
  • The venue will host 2021 BEAM Showcase in September, bringing together presentations of new musicals in development, masterclasses, networking opportunities and panel discussions.
  • Celebrations for the venue’s 120th anniversary will kick off in November– with further details to be announced.
  • Tickets are on sale now for Hackney Empire’s world-famous pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, opening in late November.
  • Hackney Empire is extremely proud to announce the first year of their Creative and Project Development Bursary designed to support and enable sector-wide access points for un(der)represented artists, creatives, audiences and narratives. Bursary recipients for 2021 include Daniel Ward, Debris Stevenson, Bradley Cumberbatch and Sophie Miller.

World-renowned Hackney born singer Leona Lewis will cement a long-standing relationship with Hackney Empire by officially becoming a Patron of the venue. With a focus on the Creative Futures Programme she will continue to offer mentorship and support to the young people supported by the venue. Since December 2020, Leona has been working closely with a group of 25 young artists and musicians aged 15-25 years old from across East and North London. Kicking off with an intimate Q&A session for the group on Zoom, she shared her own experience and advice, from growing up in Hackney, to winning X-Factor and recording her next release in LA, her song-writing inspiration and how she deals with nerves.  Since then Leona has hosted a series of workshops for the group offering personal mentoring and advice to each of the young artists, as well as bringing in guests from the music industry, including vocal coaching and song writing masterclasses with Yvie Burnett and Autumn Rowe to support their artistic development. These sessions are available for the public to view on YouTube .

Leona Lewis Q&A session

By becoming a Patron Leona will join Clive Rowe, Olivier Award-winning actor whose name is synonymous with Hackney Empire having starred in over 14 of its acclaimed Pantomimes.

Leona Lewis said, “I am honoured to become a Patron of Hackney Empire, one of the London’s most loved and magical venues. For me this feels like homecoming – it was on Hackney Empire’s legendary stage I won the first competition which started me on my journey as a professional artist, it’s the place I launched my album Echo, and is home to amazing memories of generations of my friends and family. More recently during the pandemic it’s been a huge pleasure and inspiration to work with young people from Hackney Empire’s Creative Futures programme. I’m looking forward to continuing that work as a Patron – getting involved creatively and  helping to amplify the voices of some of our amazing young artists.”

Yamin Choudry (Photo credit: Katherine Leesdale)

Artistic Director Yamin Choudury says: “The last sixteen months have been some of the most challenging we have experienced in recent memory, and what has kept many of us going is the idea of what those first nights back are going to feel like for us all. Jo and I couldn’t be more thankful to all of those who have supported us over this time and to our incredible team that have worked tirelessly to make sure that Hackney Empire was always open, accessible and there for young people in every way over the last year, and that we are now in the best possible position to welcome our incredible audiences back after the summer.

“Art and Culture as a tool to entertain, inform, respond and share has never felt more vital, more urgent, and it is our responsibility to ensure that our communities are able to access excellent people and stories – however they are told.

“We’ve missed you and we can’t wait to see you very soon”


Summer at Shakespeare’s Globe

Full cast in As You Like It, Globe on Tour (Photo credit: Marc Brenner)

With performances from just £5, as well as our onsite activities and the fantastic Swan Bar and Restaurant terrace, visiting Shakespeare’s Globe is a perfect (and affordable) date night or family day out. Check out what’s on offer at the iconic Shakespeare’s Globe this summer:


Romeo & Juliet -26 JUNE – 17 OCTOBER

From historic feud to ill-fated union, Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet finds new significance this summer in the Globe Theatre. Verona is sick. Its structures broken and its citizens in a state of desperation. When a system favours the few, the many are left with nothing but unhealthy choices. Amidst the violence, bloodshed, fear and unrest, two teenagers find unexpected relief in each other. But will love be enough to save them from society’s sickness?


Globe on Tour – Directed by Brendan O’Hea

As You Like It – 25 JUNE – 29 AUGUST

Don’t miss the chance to experience Shakespeare’s As You Like It this summer, with it’s glorious gamut of romance, poetry, satire and slapstick. When Rosalind is banished to the forest with her cousin Celia, they face a world of exile. Little do they know it is there that they will find love, in the most curious of disguises… Travel with us to the Forest of Arden to see a tale of sibling rivalry, exile, cross-dressing, and misplaced love, performed by eight extraordinary actors playing multiple roles – and even more instruments! With beautiful choreography, fantastic music and a story with real heart, this latest production of As You Like It will leave you bursting with joy.

The Tempest –  23 JUNE – 29 AUGUST

This play, inspired by Elizabethan reports of the West Indies in the 16th Century and imbued with a spirit of magic and superstition, The Tempest is Shakespeare’s tumultuous play of betrayal, love and forgiveness. Set on a remote and mysterious desert island, a banished father must relinquish control and release his daughter in order for her, and for him, to grow, love and understand this brave new world. With enchantments and treachery at every turn, will anyone ever escape?

Audience Choice –  SUN 18 JULY, SAT 21 AUGUST, SAT 28 AUGUST

What’s it like to go to the theatre and not know what you’re going to see? Across the summer and for three performances only, it will be up to you to vote for which of our plays the Globe Touring Ensemble delivers that day. As ever, our talented and versatile company will take on multiple roles across three plays – As You Like It, The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Actors call it ‘terrifying’, audiences say it’s exhilarating. So wave your arms and stomp your feet as much as you can for the play you want to see, and blow the (figurative) roof off the Globe Theatre. The rules are simple: you decide.


Midnight Matinees

–        Romeo & Juliet – Saturday 17 July, 11.59pm

–        Audience Choice – Saturday 21 August, 11.59pm

–        A Midsummer Night’s Dream –  Saturday 18 September, 11.59pm

–        Revel in the enchanting atmosphere of the Globe under the stars and experience Shakespeare’s plays in a truly unique and magical way. As the city settles down and fades away to sleep, something special is about to happen in our ‘Wooden O’. Prepare to be transported into worlds of choices, forests, love and tragedy. There are three Midnight Matinée performances in Summer 2021 – Romeo & Juliet, Audience Choice (you decide!) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.


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hackney empire Leona Lewis Shakespeare's Globe

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