I still wonder what’s going to happen to the Hackney Empire. Here’s the official news on plans for the next 12 months on their website. I visited the Empire in September during the Open House London event. What a grand old theatre – and they did a great job with the refurbishment, adding some contemporary studios and new signage on the corner of Mare Street and Wilton Way. It’s a great co-mingling of old and new.
The thing is, the Hackney Empire has a lot of potential. That section of Mare Street could be Hackney’s true centre, a real hub of activity. Hackney Empire could be its centrepiece. It could be the premier live entertainment venue of the area. With connections to north London and Stratford along the Overground line, connections to Liverpool Street, and the future East London line connecting it to the south, it has great transportation links. The Hackney Empire has showcased comedy and a variety of other theatrical performances. Could it also be a venue used for education and training in the performing arts – for amateur orchestras and bands? Could it hold workshops for people to improve their public speaking skills through comedy and drama? I think this would be a great opportunity. Instead of sitting around listening to other inspiring people talk (I’ve been doing a lot of that – TED.com, free talks at the London School of Economics), maybe more places should hosting, teaching, and training to be inspirational when they speak. More education, training people to express themselves creatively and speak up – that’s a ticket to a promising future.