Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Jamie Eastlake: N16 and A Festive Homage To The Greatest Film Saga Of All Time

By | Published on Tuesday 8 December 2015


One of London’s newer fringe venues Theatre N16 – now moved from Stokey to Balham SW12 – next week celebrates the mid-December release of the latest film in a certain well known space-based movie series with a timely homage.
The show may have been conjured up because of an unexpected gap in the programme, but it sounds as though the quality of the production will be pretty magical, given the talents of the creative team behind it. I put some questions to the director, N16 founder Jamie Eastlake.

CM: Tell us about the show – what’s the theme?
JE: It’s an homage to six great films (although some would say three). We wanted to hear stories from the lesser characters, the people who you never actually meet in the films. It’s a mix of that, alongside a couple of pieces centred around the fans of the films. Although it is mainly comedy, and is almost a cabaret evening, there are moments of real life coming through, and a few really sweet moments. All five pieces are written by top playwrights: we have a BBC Writersroom winner, and the most recent Kenneth Branagh award winner too, so it’s all top quality crazy writing!

CM: Who decided on the theme? Are you a big fan of the films?
JE: I’m a massive fan. We had a cancellation in our programme due to unforeseen circumstances so we opted to go with a Christmas show. I have a background in panto, and that’s the route we were going to go, however, with all the buzz around the films at this time, we though we could do something to show our appreciation and love of the ‘Star Wars’ universe.

CM: Tell us about the structure of it – are these short plays? Sketches? An ongoing narrative..?
JE: Short plays, knitted together by a sort of narrator/compere. Some are closer to sketches and others tell stories of friendship and what Star Wars can do to people.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about all the different writers involved?
JE: We have John Hickman and Steve Robertson, who have collaborated on a piece. Both are film-makers from the north-east, but John’s major talent is writing. We also have a piece by Victoria Taylor Roberts, recent winner of the aforementioned Kenneth Branagh drama award, and a selection of other amazing writers whose work has graced London and American fringes.

CM: Have you inserted any festive elements, given the timing…?
JE: We have a Christmas tree in our foyer that is dressed up like Darth Vader. Helmet, light-sabre. No expense spared. Apart from the baubles. 99p store.

CM: Who is this aimed at? Is it suitable for younger audiences?
JE: I’d have to say it’s 15+. It’s definitely a show that goes well alongside a couple of pints or a glass of wine. You definitely have to be a ‘Star Wars’ fan to get sucked into it; you don’t, however, have to be a theatre fan. That’s the magic.

CM: Tell us about Theatre N16. What are its aims and ambitions?
JE: We’ve had a really amazing response since we opened at the Bedford in Balham, so just want to keep doing what we are doing. We provide free space to theatre companies to do their work. We want to encourage an environment on the fringe where every artist gets paid for their time. It’s hard work, but it’s working. My aim is to one day be the leading fringe venue in the UK. It’s a massive aim but why not? I’ve only been in London 20 months and don’t have a trust fund to fall back on, and have already got N16 up and running. I genuinely think with the team I have around me we can do anything we want to do. (A bit Disney, but why the hell not?)

CM: What’s coming up next for the company?
JE: January to July is 99% programmed now. We have some really exciting work debuting here. We’ve still got the classics though (Shakespeare, Wilde, etc), because we want to make sure we provide SW London with high quality ‘traditional’ theatre as well as the new stuff.

I’m delighted to be directing a piece in April by journalist Martin McNamara, about Paul Hill and the Guildford Four. Martin managed to get Paul’s go ahead to write the piece, which feels so current with the split in the UK at the moment – especially considering a certain Mr Corbyn was a big supporter of Paul at the time.

We also have a beautiful Romanian piece that was put together at the Royal Court a few years back, an immersive murder trial that actually happened in the pub, and a host of new and revisited plays with beautiful stories to tell.

‘Theatre N16 Present A Festive Homage To The Greatest Film Saga Of All Time’, is on at Theatre N16, above The Bedford in Balham, from 14-17 Dec. See this page here for more info and to book tickets.

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