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East London Theatre with a rich history

Situated in the heart of Stratford, Theatre Royal Stratford East is a popular East London venue focused on new writing and community engagement. Their programme is a combination of their own productions and touring shows. Head here to see a highly entertaining mixture of dramas, musicals, pantomime and also children’s theatre.

The theatre opened in 1884 under the guidance of Charles Dillon working with architect James George Buckle. In the early 1900s, Frank Matcham redesigned the theatre to allow for the use of electric lighting. It is now a Grade II* listed building. Since 1953, it has been the home of the Theatre Workshop company, famously associated with Joan Littlewood.

We recently caught up with Assistant Producer, Lauren Hamilton from Theatre Royal Stratford East to find out more about this incredible historic venue and what she loves about working there!

How did Stratford East get started and how did you become involved?

Stratford East was built in 1884 - it’s a beautiful, Victorian theatre with an expansive history, but it made its name under ‘the mother of modern theatre’ Joan Littlewood in the 1950s and 60s.

I’ve always admired Stratford East’s reputation for creating radical, political and socially engaging performance so jumped at the chance to be part of the team programming and producing its artistic output.

What kind of shows do you run?

Since Nadia Fall took post as Artistic Director in 2017, she has been transforming Stratford East’s repertoire with reimagined classic texts, pertinent revivals and bold, politically charged new work. Our programming is hugely diverse but always keeps high quality storytelling at its heart.

What is your favourite show and why?

My favourite show from this current season was without doubt King Hedley II, directed by our Artistic Director Nadia. The production was beautifully gritty, poetic, atmospheric and visceral – what more could you ask for in an evening’s entertainment?!

What upcoming shows do you recommend and why?

The new season has so many exciting productions to choose from, but personally I cannot wait for Sucker Punch - Roy Williams’ bruising testimonial about 1980s Brixton, which premiered ten years ago at the Royal Court. Set in a run down South London boxing ring, the play examines what it was like to be a young black man in 80’s Thatcherite Britain and speaks of a system designed to see you fail - considering our current political climate, this production feels searingly relevant.

What other great events are coming up at Stratford East?

Throughout October we are thrilled to be hosting Paines Plough’s acclaimed pop-up theatre Roundabout for a mini festival. It’s a flat-pack auditorium (legend has it you can build the whole thing with an allen key!) which will be quite spectacular once in situ – it will look like a spaceship has landed outside in Theatre Square. We’re going to present a really, really exciting programme of theatre, music, spoken word, cabaret and lots more, so it’s definitely one to look out for.

What do you love most about your job?

I’ve always been passionately in love with Theatre, so to work in the Artistic team at Stratford East feels like a dream come true! My job gives me a chance to be part of making theatrical work that is exciting and engaging whilst being based in one of the best and most loved theatres in London – I guess a better question would be; what’s not to love?

What do you love most about Stratford?

Stratford is diverse, vibrant and there’s always something interesting going on.

What are your tips when visiting the area?

Skip Westfield and head straight for the Stratford Centre – all of life is here!


Looking for a creative area to set up home? If so, then Stratford Mill could be the place for you: 0207 760 1583/

Stratford Mill

Published on 28|10|2019

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