You’re Soho Theatre’s Head of Comedy. What’s your day-to-day like?
I’ve been working at Soho Theatre for nearly 22 years! My job is to head up our comedy department and be across all elements of it – the comedy programme at Dean Street, with its four to nine shows a night, alongside that there’s work that we tour, there’s the work that we take to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and other festivals around the world. The other elements are the work that we film which is something that we’ve been working on for a number of years but more intensely over the last few. My role is to select a programme of artists that we feel really represents Soho Theatre well – the quality of the work, the ideas being explored, the style of performance, to have a good representation of Soho Theatre’s programme digitally, available on our website and on Amazon Prime. The other area of my work is preparing for Soho Theatre Walthamstow to open. The team and I are talking to artists, agents, managers and promoters about the new venue, getting everyone aware of it, excited about it, and on their radar for artists’ upcoming tours.
What do you like about Walthamstow and do you have roots in the area yourself?
I live in Leyton. I’m about a 20-minute walk from Soho Theatre Walthamstow. I moved to Leyton because it felt like a good place to be. My son goes to school here, my daughter goes to nursery. I really love the area, our neighbours, our community, the friends we’ve made. I feel very, very at home in Leyton and Waltham Forest. It’s really nice to be working on a project that will impact where I live. Somewhere that my kids will become familiar with, my neighbours, my friends. This brilliant resource on our doorstep. I feel privileged to play a part in that.
Soho Theatre has been working in the borough for a number of years. Can you say something about the comedy work you’ve already been doing in the borough and how that’s gone down with audiences and participants?
We’ve delivered our Soho Theatre labs in the borough, working with people who want to give comedy and performance a go for the first time. We put on a large-scale comedy event in Fellowship Square to coincide with the opening of the fountain, with a really great line-up – Russell Kane, Simon Amstell, Shaparak Khorsandi, Thaniya Moore. That was a beautiful late summer open air performance. It was a brilliant night of comedy. The artists and audiences had a really good time. It’s a good teaser for who you might see at the new venue.
Can you give us a sneak preview of what we can expect to see on stage at Soho Theatre Walthamstow?
Our ambition is to make this one of the best comedy venues in the country, if not the world! The programme at Soho Theatre has always been international, so we want to bring international artists to Walthamstow, as well as the finest artists from the UK. We want the most exciting comedians in the world to play here. One of the things about Soho Theatre is that we work with a lot of artists who are now really well-known. It would be great to pull these people back into our programme now we’ll have this large stage and bigger capacity to play with. The new venue also opens up the possibility of working with artists that we can’t make work at Dean Street because we haven’t got the larger-scale capacity there.
Will there be links between the comedy programme at Soho Theatre in Dean Street, and the new theatre in Walthamstow?
100%. One of the reasons we think it can work to have a venue at this scale is because we do have shows that break out and become hot tickets very quickly in Dean Street, so there’s the obvious route of transferring a hot ticket. There’s also the development path we can go on with artists. One of the things we’ve done over the years is progressed people through our stages. You can start off doing a run in Soho Upstairs, then progress to Soho Downstairs, and then the main house. We can go on a real journey with an artist. They can start off at Dean Street with a vision to play on the main stage at Walthamstow, we can tour them, we can film them, and we can take them to Edinburgh.
Our brand new venue
See where we're up to refurbishing the old Walthamstow Granada into a state-of-the-art 21st century comedy venue in the heart of the Waltham Forest community - Soho Theatre Walthamstow.