Around 50 people protested outside the press night of Aladdin at the Hackney Empire in London last week, over plans to close the theatre for an uncertain “period of reflection” on the artistic and financial direction of this community theatre.
Initially, the Hackney Gazette reported that the theatre would close for three months, but this has now been stretched to nine months.
Many people are concerned that this means the theatre will shut for good.
The protest was lively and attracted widespread support.
A member of staff has told Socialist Worker that the demonstration has shaken management, and that the rumours had been spreading among workers about whether the protesters planned to storm the stage and disrupt the show. The Bectu union reps were singled out as the people most likely to let the protesters in to sabotage the performance.
Monica Morris of the Hackney Empire Elders Group said, “Tonight isn’t about trying to disrupt the pantomime, it’s about trying to spread the campaign.
“We don’t have much else of cultural significance in Hackney and we need The Empire to fill that hole.
“It’s good to have such a beautiful cultural landmark and it’s good for the kids in Hackney and beyond.
“Lots of them get brought here on school trips and not all of them have parents who can afford to take them if it’s not done through school.”
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