THE performing arts in Hackney have a vibrant history dating back to the foundation of UK theatre itself. Built in 1577, England's second public playhouse was on Curtain Road in Shoreditch, where William Shakespeare appeared on stage and Ben Johnson plays were performed.
Since then, other pioneering theatres have been established in the borough, including the Hackney Empire, which in 1901 was a technological wonder of its time with electric lights, central heating and in-built projection box.
With an ever-expanding array of fringe, community and mainstream venues, present-day Hackney is still at the forefront of theatre innovation. From sponsoring up and coming playwrights at The Yard, to developing sustainable production techniques at Dalston’s Arcola, theatre continues to be a key part of the borough’s creative life.