For the geographically challenged, Theatre N16 may prove to be somewhat confusing. Having started life in Stoke Newington N16, the theatre moved across the river in 2015 to set up a new permanent home above the Bedford Pub in Balham. Despite its N16 name, it has firmly established itself in the Balham community.
The small N16 team is headed by Artistic Director Jamie Eastlake. Aged just 24, Eastlake is arguably London’s youngest Artistic Director. He’s worked on over 20 fringe productions as producer or director and founded Theatre N16 in 2015.
For the next installment in our 16 For 2016 feature, Glen Pearce spoke to Eastlake about the past year and plans for the future.
What have been your theatrical highlights (and challenges) of 2015?
Moving to our permanent home in Balham has been number one highlight, and the relocation was at the same time our number one challenge. Opening a space without funding and making sure we don’t rely on volunteers has also been very difficult, but extremely rewarding pulling it off. My highlight of going to the theatre was finally getting to see Jennifer Haley’s The Nether in the spring – I’m a bit obsessed with internet plays, but that was literally another level.
What do you see as the highlights (and challenges) for your organisation in 2016?
I’m really excited to bring Guildford Four member Paul Hill’s story to the stage. Considering how popular Making a Murderer is at the minute, telling a story on stage that deals with such a miscarriage of justice so close to home, yet so far removed from my generation’s education of recent British history, is going to be such a privilege.
I’m also looking forward to the challenge of really cementing ourselves in the community in Balham. Our name confuses people sometimes, so we really need to engage with the people who live here more, which is a really different task to just concentrating on “Theatreland” people.
What is your theatrical New Year’s resolution?
See more theatre. I’ve definitely seen less than ever before in the last six months, but now that the infrastructure is in place at N16 in Balham I should have more time to get out and about again. Hopefully.
Excluding funding, if you were Minister for Culture what is the one aspect of the arts sector you’d like to change?
It’s difficult to make the changes I’d like without referencing funding! But I’d definitely focus on grassroots, and look at the ways we could support schools. I had an amazing time at school and began to realise what theatre was with the help of Creative Partnerships, the UK’s flagship creative learning programme. It sadly closed a few years back due to funding cuts, which was an absolute travesty. A drama teacher told me a few weeks back that the public school she worked in had £650 to spend on the whole drama department, it didn’t even cover printing costs – which is craziness. If it wasn’t for Creative Partnerships, all our drama department would have had was a cupboard full of charity shop clothes, a couple of walking sticks and some wigs. I bet Eddie Redmayne and co had a bit more than that. Actually, come to think of it, that’s all he needed for his last two films…
For more information on Theatre N16 visit www.theatren16.co.uk