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London fringe venue moves to theatre-starved borough

Theatre N16 is moving to a space above The Bedford pub in Balham. Photo: Ewan Munro/Flickr Theatre N16 is moving to a space above The Bedford pub in Balham. Photo: Ewan Munro/Flickr
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A north London fringe venue is moving to one of the capital’s most theatre-deprived boroughs.

Theatre N16 opened in Stoke Newington in May, above the White Hart pub. However, it has been forced to find new premises after the management of the pub changed hands.

The theatre’s founders, Jamie Eastlake and Ella Marchment, are now set to reopen the theatre in Balham, south-west London. Balham is in Wandsworth, which has the fewest theatre seats out of all the inner London boroughs, according to the London Theatre Report.

Eastlake told The Stage that the new theatre, above the Bedford pub, would have 20 more seats than in Stoke Newington, with a capacity of 90. It also includes a large foyer space and backstage areas.

He said the theatre would be above an existing comedy space within the pub, which is currently used for rehearsals.

“It’s been a stressful six weeks but we are very pleased to have found a new home,” Eastlake said, adding: “Tooting and Balham don’t have theatres, so – like Stoke Newington – it’s the perfect spot.”

He said the theatre would undergo a name change, but the new title has not yet been chosen. However,  Eastlake revealed he was considering naming it the Common Theatre, inspired in part by the number of commons in south London.

Like in N16, Eastlake will offer the space to theatre companies and performers rent-free, on a box office split basis.

In a letter sent out to theatre companies, he wrote: “Over the next few months we will be going through the masses of enquiries built up since our opening season and will be in touch with those who we feel fit what we want to do with our new venture.”

Eastlake added: “We want to be as transparent as possible, and allow the space to be a hub for the theatre makers of tomorrow.”

A campaign to raise £3,000 in time for the theatre’s planned opening in September will begin imminently.

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