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Theatre Royal Stratford East enlists help of actors for £100,000 fundraising bid

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 August 2020 | UPDATED: 17:21 03 August 2020

Sir Ian McKellan is backing Stratford East Theatre Royal's bid to raise £100,000 to keep alive its projects. Picture: Oliver Rosser/Feast Creative

Sir Ian McKellan is backing Stratford East Theatre Royal's bid to raise £100,000 to keep alive its projects. Picture: Oliver Rosser/Feast Creative

Oliver Rosser/Feast Creative

A theatre’s campaign to raise £100,000 has received the backing of actors including Sir Ian McKellen.

Stratford East Theatre Royal was opened in 1884. Picture: Ken MearsStratford East Theatre Royal was opened in 1884. Picture: Ken Mears

The X-Men and Lord of the Rings star joined fellow performers to lend their support to Theatre Royal Stratford East’s fundraising bid.

It comes after the Covid-19 outbreak forced it to close, sparking what it has described as its biggest challenge since it opened in 1884.

In spite of lockdown, the venue in Gerry Raffles Square has continued to put on work. This has included moving its youth theatre and some productions online.

“Throughout this difficult time, we have stayed positive, creative and innovative, determined to continue to make work inspired by and for our community,” a theatre spokesperson said.

Chizzy Akudolu, who appeared in Strictly Come Dancing, praised the venue for being so diverse. Picture BBCChizzy Akudolu, who appeared in Strictly Come Dancing, praised the venue for being so diverse. Picture BBC

“We know this is a difficult time for many, and if you are able to consider making a donation of any size, we would be extremely grateful,” she added.

The government and Arts Council bailouts have thrown the theatre a lifeline, allowing it to stay afloat.

But Stratford East’s staff want to continue to create performances and carry on with community work.

But those efforts are threatened with no money coming in from ticket sales.

Sheila Hancock (left) and Keeley Hawes in Barking in Essex at Wyndham's Theatre. Ms Hancock described Stratford East as warm and welcoming: 
Alistair MuirSheila Hancock (left) and Keeley Hawes in Barking in Essex at Wyndham's Theatre. Ms Hancock described Stratford East as warm and welcoming: Alistair Muir

The theatre has been saved once before when in the 1970s it was under threat from the building of the Stratford Centre. For many years its artistic director was Joan Littlewood whose productions included O What a Lovely War!

“As Joan Littlewood said, ‘We must now find a new route,’ so that we can come back even stronger and continue to support our community that is so important to us,” the spokesperson explained.

In a two minute video, Sir Ian Mckellen tells viewers: “It’s a theatre for local people.”

Fellow actor, Chizzy Akudolu – who performed in one of the theatre’s last productions before lockdown – hailed the venue for being welcoming to everybody.

“It’s not a black theatre. It’s not a white theatre. It’s just so diverse,” she said.

Sheila Hancock, whose roles include mother superior in Sister Act the Musical, commented: “I remember it being very warm and welcoming and everybody inter-mingling. Everybody was part of it.”

To donate visit stratfordeast.com/support-us

Or text TRSE plus the amount to 70085.


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