Shakespeare mash up:  Titus Andronicus
Shakespeare mash up: Nic Lamont in The Best Pies in London

Writing out of a purpose built shed outside the Rose Lipman Building in De Beauvoir Town, playwright Annie Jenkins has been challenged to write 1000 plays in just ten days.

As part of the Shakespeare in Shoreditch festival, Jenkins will be welcoming people to drop by and share their stories and ideas, which she will turn into new dramatic works at a prolific rate.

Originally from Seven Sisters, Jenkins is more than a little daunted by the task ahead. “It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done,” she confesses. “But that environment comes very naturally to me.”

Jenkins’ shed is just one of the attractions that comprise Shakespeare in Shoreditch, celebrating East London’s part in the life of the world’s greatest playwright on his 450th birthday.

Festival producer Francesca Duncan argues that “the South Bank has the Globe, and Stratford-upon-Avon has the RSC, so what about Shoreditch?”

Thanks to recent archaeological discoveries, Shoreditch is now regarded as London’s first theatreland, a place where actors, poets and playwrights lived and worked during the golden age of poetry.

Playwrights Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Kyd roomed together just off Bishopsgate, Ben Jonson fought a duel killing a fellow actor in Hoxton Fields and Shakespeare premiered some of his best loved works including Romeo and Juliet at the Curtain theatre, commemorated on Hewett Street.

The festival aims to re-connect Shakespeare’s vibrant Renaissance London with the contemporary area through promenade performances of newly commissioned work, playwriting workshops and salons with Shakespearean scholars.

Felix Mortimer and Joshua Nawras, the festival’s creators, drew their inspiration from the Bard’s character names which adorn streets and tower blocks around Hoxton. Regan Way, Caliban Tower and Rosalind House are now the starting point for a new crop of writers, commissioned to reinterpret those same characters.

Ten new plays, including a new piece by Rebecca Lenkiewicz whose play The Painter marked the opening of the Arcola’s new premises, will be presented in venues dotted along routes through Hoxton and Shoreditch.

In preparation for her Titus Andronicus-inspired monologue, actor Nic Lamont even worked a shift at F. Cooke’s pie and mash shop on Hoxton Street, where The Best Pies in London will be performed.

Jenkins says the wonderful thing about Shakespeare’s work is that it can be re-interpreted and re-imagined and still have relevance for a contemporary audience, and that “the plays are so universally applicable that everyone can engage with them”. Which is just what the festival sets out to prove to new audiences in Shakespeare’s old stomping ground.

Shakespeare in Shoreditch Festival is at venues across Shoreditch until 12 October. See website for more details.



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