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About Us


Information page for funders


ELSF is an East London/Waltham Forest based theatre & community company merging the contemporary culture of East London with the inspirational storytelling of Shakespeare’s plays in outdoor community spaces. Presenting high-quality (low ticket priced) professional outdoor productions/tours and accompanying community programmes to local people. With a particular focus on engaging audiences and participants who have previously had limited access to performance.


We want to break-down barriers people have to experiencing art – expensive tickets, travel, isolation – by bringing accessible theatre and cultural engagement activities to their doorstep. 


This is not traditional outdoor Shakespeare – our productions are relevant & contemporary, filled with music, dance, audience interaction & appropriate for diverse audiences/families/all ages. A festival vibe is encouraged with gates opening an hour before shows, pre-show craft making workshops and BYO Picnics. There are Pay-What-You-Can performances & heavily reduced school matinees for local Schools, with pre-show workshops led by cast.  Community engagement programmes have included Community Casts as part of all full professional productions, Apprentice Schemes & Work Experience Schemes.

Upcoming Productions:

'Romeo & Juliet': Summer 2023: professional outdoor tour of East London Parks and community spaces (June - August 2023) Confirmed venues: 

Fellowship Square (E17, Waltham Forest), Leyton Jubilee Park (E10, Waltham Forest), Valentines Park (Ilford), Higham Hill Hub, Wanstead Park (Redbridge), Springfield Park (Clapton, E5), Clissold Park (N16), Hoxton Community Gardens (N1, Hackney), Hornsey School for Girls (N8)


Previous projects:

ELSF launched in 2021 with a magical, riotous, sold-out production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, receiving an Off West End Award Nomination for Best Company. This project was funded by Arts Council, England. 


In 2022 we followed this with a highly successful production of Twelfth Night – touring to 8 local East London parks and Community spaces (Clissold Park, Springfield Park, Fellowship Square, Leyton Jubilee Park, Higham Hill, Wanstead Park and Hoxton Community Gardens). We also had a community Cast of 16 members who performed in 8 shows at 2 of the venues (see feedback below). 


ELSF has previously produced '2 Metres to Shakespeare', a COVID-safe live production during the pandemic at Leyton’s Langthorne Amphitheatre; 'Behind Closed Doors (Shakespeare)' as part of Waltham Forests’ Virtual Programme of Culture; and Response Project, a community-led response to Behind Closed Doors. ELSF has been awarded grants from: Arts Council, England, Swire Trust, Armitage Trust London Borough of Waltham Forest (LBWF) Fellowship Fund, 8 grants from LBWF Ward funding, wards include; Higham Hill, Leyton, William Morris, Chapel End) .

Previous Projects, Productions & Successful Initiatives

June - Aug 2022 Twelfth Night + Community Engagement Programme

37 Performances

3500+ tickets sold

29 x flower garland making workshops for 3-11 year olds

3 x school matinees/pre-show workshops – 251 students 7-16yrs

Community ensemble: 17 local people featured in 10 performances

3 Apprentice Schemes

Partnered with 13+ Community Partners & Local Businesses

21 Professional paid roles

The evaluation from our online survey, showeed that 99% of respondents “understood & enjoyed the performance," citing the key features as ‘joyful,’ ‘diverse cast,’ ‘beautiful setting.’ The majority walked or cycled to the show and their travel time was under 30 minutes.

See more feedback from our Community Engagement below.

June - Jul 2021 A Midsummer Night's Dream + Community Engagement Programme

21 Sold Out Shows

2000+ Tickets Sold

3 x School Matinees + Pre-show workshop

18 x Flower Garland Making workshops for 3-11 year olds

Amazing Community Ensemble - local people featured in the show

2 x Apprentice Schemes

Worked with 13+ Community Partners & Local Businesses

OFFIE Nomination for Best Company Ensemble

The evaluation from our online survey, showed that 98% of respondents “understood & enjoyed the performance.". A huge majority walked or cycled to the show and their travel time was under 30 minutes. As such our age range was huge, with an audience made up of 0-90 year olds.

See more feedback from our Community Engagement below.

Sept 2020 2 Metres to Shakespeare

Community Engagement Programme 2023/4















Click here


Young Company Pilot - Provisional Schedule 2023

Block 1, 07-Sept to 21-Dec 2023 (no session 26-Oct)

Thursdays @CentrE17, E17 3AB

14-18 yrs, 5pm – 6:30pm

19-24 yrs, 6:30 – 8pm

Project: Shakespeare Monologues & Scene Presentation


Performance: ELSF YC Xmas Shakespeare Showcase

Date: Sunday 17th Dec 2023, timings TBC

Location: Fellowship Square, E17


Block 2, 11-Jan to 28-March

Monday’s @ CentrE17, E17 3AB

ALL, 5pm-8pm

Professional creative team:

Community Director

Choreographer - movement/dance numbers

Designer - costumes/set/mentoring

Full day Rehearsals: Sun 10 & Sun 17-March


Performances: Romeo and Juliet - edited 75 mins version with

all members of the Young Company taking part (some roles to be doubled)

Date: Fri 29-March – Sun 31-March 2023

Location: Leyton Great Hall, E10



Masterclasses (1 per block):

  • Mariah Gale (Lead RSC actor)

  • Ben Caplan (lead TV, Film & theatre actor)

  • Soho Walthamstow in-house Improv teacher

  • ELSF is currently in talks with Alice Farlow, Director of Engagement @ The National Theatre about outreach opportunities for participants


Theatre trip (1 per block):

  • The National

  • The Globe

  • ELSF Summer Production + Q&A with cast


(Exact details TBC, to be organised by Head of Creative Engagement / Community Director).

Future Plans:

Following a successful pilot, ELSF will aim to expand the company to include more young acting members and also launch a design and technical training scheme. 

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Leyton Great Hall

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Community Cast Provisional Schedule 2023

Rehearsal Schedule:

Community Ensemble Workshop:

1 x Saturday workshop, 10:00 – 1pm CENTRE17 (27-May) Intro to Romeo & Juliet


Community Cast  to join the cast for:

2 x evening rehearsals, Wed, 7:30 – 9:30pm (31-May & 07-Jun)

2 x Saturday rehearsals, 10:00 – 1pm (03 & 10-Jun)

Dress rehearsal, Tuesday 14 June 6:30 – 9:30pm


Performance Schedule

X 2 Walthamstow Venues

            Higham Hill Hub

            Fellowship Square


x 5 Performances per venue:

Get in & rehearsal in space, Thursday 5:30pm

Thursday 7:30pm

Friday 7:30pm

Saturday 3pm & 7:30pm

Sunday 3pm

(Required 60 mins prior to show)


1 x Saturday workshop, 10:00 – 1pm CENTRE17 (01-Jul) Scene-work from Romeo & Juliet


Fellowship Square - Twelfth Night 2022


Higham Hill Hub - A Midsummer Night's Dream 2021


This opportunity was open to everyone, no experience necessary.

Our 2022 Cast was made up of 17 local participants from Hackney & Waltham Forest ranging from a babe in arms (7 months), to 65 yrs. Participants were: Black, Asian, from a minority ethnic group, LGBTQI+, Neuro-divergent (ADHD, Tourettes and autism.)


2 Apprentice Actors engaged in ELSF's 2023 Summer professional tour of 'Romeo & Juliet':


East London Shakespeare Festival will engage 2 local young actors (Age 18-25) who have aspirations to go to audition for drama school and/or pursue acting professionally.

  • Priority for these roles will be given to participants (18yrs+) who are members of Young Company, who will be invited to audition

  • They will be full cast members and rehearse alongside the professional cast (25hrs p/w), obtaining a professional credit - please see dates below.

  • They will multi-role playing: SAMPSON / MUSICIAN & GREGORY / PETER

  •  ELSF will provide four sessions of free tutoring/mentoring/training/audition prep to support their aspirations i.e. applying/auditioning to drama school, securing an agent, professional auditions.

  • Fee: £980.00


Provisional Engagement Dates (STC)

Rehearsals: Thu 25th May – Sat 10th June (25hrs p/w Mon-Sat).

Performances (inc. dress reh. & get-ins)

13th - 18th June, Higham Hill Hub

Thu 22nd – Sun 25th June, Leyton Jubilee Park

Fri 30th Jun – Sat 1st July, Hoxton Community Gardens (Press)

Wed 5th – Sun 9th July, Fellowship Square

Fri 14th July – Sun 16th July, New North London venue TBC

Fri 21st – Sun 23rd July, Highams Park

Tue 25th July – Fri 28th July, Clissold Park

Thu 4th Aug – Mon 7th July, Valentines Park / Wanstead Park

Fri 11th Aug – Sun 13th Aug, Springfield Park



Apprentice Production/Marketing Assistant x 2


Building on our successful 2022 Kickstart Apprentice scheme (ELSF engaged 1 x Community Engagement assistant, 1 x Production Assistant), ELSF will develop new talent by appointing an Apprentice Producer/Marketing Assistant – a varied, entry level job, inc. 1-to-1 mentoring & wide scope for learning. 14 HRS P/W).

Role includes:

  • With Marketing Associate & Assistant Director’s - Design Social Media campaign

  • Weekly Social Media – implementing campaign above

  • Assist Head of Creative Engagement in collating and updating databases, programme design and outreach

  • Assist Producers/Artistic Directors with summer tour – face-to-face marketing  scheduling, liaising with venues, assisting stage managers/designer/front of house manager

  • 14 HRS P/W @£9.50p/h (NMW). - 6 month contract - Flexible Schedule TBD between candidate and Artistic Director’s.



Work Experience


ELSF currently works closely with Crate St James, Big Creative, PinPoint Education, LBWF and Hackney council to offer work experience opportunities for young people, which have included:

  • Interviewing Cast & Creative Team ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ 2021

  • Rehearsal photographs, social media and video ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ 2021 & ‘Twelfth Night 2022’

  • Performance Photography ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ 2021

  • Shadowing Musical director ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ 2021

  • Front of House ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ 2021 & ‘Twelfth Night 2022’

  • 2 x 6 month Kickstart Placements (1 x Community Engagement assistant, 1 x Production Assistant) ‘Twelfth Night 2022’


It will be the role of the Head of Creative Engagement to expand and develop our existing work experience programme to include work experience roles across the range of our projects.


This opportunity was open to 18-24 yrs, for young people interested in pursuing acting professionally. They were cast in a paid, speaking role, joining the professional cast for the duration of the tour.

ELSF provided mentoring.

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Matt Kasham - Philostrate / Starveling

Apprentice Actor 2021

ELSF provided drama school mentoring & audition prep

Since working with ELSF, Matt has:

Final recalls at multiple drama schools

Currently on Foundation course at Rose Bruford 

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Frank Alemitu Bertoletti - Valentine

Apprentice Actor 2022



During the run, Frank understudied & went on for Viola & Maria


ELSF provided industry mentoring inc. Spotlight/showreel/headshot advice, approaching agents & mock interview. 


Since working with ELSF, Frank has:

Signed with Nina Lee Management

Now working professionally




Apprentice Community Engagement Assistant

Part of our Kickstart team, facilitated by Crate, Walthamstow



Apprentice Production Assistant

Part of our Kickstart team, facilitated by Crate, Walthamstow


ELSF School’s Programme 2023


Consolidation and expansion of ELSF’s School’s Programme:

ROMEO AND JULIET - Summer 2023 


Hornsey Girl’s Student/Community Cast Project – Romeo  and Juliet - July - Aug 2023

Venue: On-site @ Hornsey School For Girls, Crouch EndThis will emulate the Community Cast at earlier venues. 

The profesional production will be touring to Hornsey School for Girls in Aug 2023


2 x groups of 15 Hornsey Girls students (30 students in total) become part of the community cast for the run of shows at Hornsey School For GirlsThey will rehearse/take part in workshops with ELSF’s Community Ensemble Director on-site, in the week prior to public performances. 

Workshops: 2 x 3 hour workshops/rehearsals: in the week prior to public performances led by Community Director. 



Rehearsal/Workshop dates: Sat 29th July & Wed 2nd Aug 

Performances (during the public run) 04/08/2023 - 06/08/2023:

Fri 4th Aug 3-5pm “Dress rehearsal” (cue-to-cue) with professional cast


Each group of 15 will feature in 2 performances: Fri 4th Aug Eve / Sat 5th Aug Mat OR Sat 5th Aug Eve / Sun 6th Mat


Professional Production, Schools Matinees and pre-show workshop

We offer matinee performances to local schools, which include a 20-minute pre-show group workshop run by the members of the cast, to introduce the characters and themes to the students.


This opportunity will be shared to our database of 250+ schools in E. London, and The Hub (The Education and Childcare Network for LBWF) with priority given to Waltham Forest based schools. We want to make these shows as accessible as possible and therefore are offering tickets at the heavily discounted price of £3.80 per child (full price children’s tickets are £8). Provisional Schools Matinee Shows Times 2023:

Higham Hill Hub, E17 5QT      Friday 16th June, 12.30 – 2:30pm

Leyton Jubilee Park, E10 7BL  Friday 23rd June, 12.30 – 2:30pm

Fellowship Square, E17 4JF    Friday 7th July, 12.30 – 2:30pm

The pre-show workshops are designed by our artistic directors, Rosie Ward and Ursula Early.

Expansion of School’s Programme

It will be the role of the Creative Engagement Director (with support from artistic directors) to expand and develop our existing schools’ programme. Including:

  • Colloboate/work with current and new school networks to: develop, design and expand programme to include: bespoke on-site projects / workshops / performance projects, with and for local schools.

  • Consolidate current database

  • Create new relationships with teachers/schools/educational professionals

  • Share Schools’ Matinee Programme e 

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A central point of our funding application is the expansion of the ELSF Core Team.

For the growth, development and dynamism of the company, and our community engagement.

Creative Engagement


Marketing Associate

Production /

Marketing Assistant

See above

The new team will work with ELSF's experienced Artistic Directors.

Artistic Directors

Ursula Early

 Co-artistic Director and Producer of ELSF and Creative Producer for Walthamstow’s performance & Community venue The CentrE17. 


With a career in there production spanning 20 years - producing and developing projects across London and for UK touring. 

Ursula is also a community workshop leader and facilitator, designing and delivering an extensive range of acting and drama projects and workshops for theatre companies and Drama Schools. Including City Academy. She has Level 3 OCNLR Accredited  Diploma in Leading Dance for Older People (course provided by Green Candle Dance Company. She is also currently on the professional development faculty of Dance Research Studio and teaches on their Professional Development Programme.

She is an invited member producer on the  The Production Exchange and has been a  producer on Old Vic New Voices TS Eliot US/UK Exchange and completed Stage One New producers workshops: 


Ursula is also a professional actor with has an extensive acting CV and trained at Guildhall School of Music and Drama

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Rosie Ward

Rosie is the founder, Artisrtic Director and Producer of UpFront Theatre Company Ltd, an educational company offering PSHE workshops for KS2 - 5.


  Projects include: Before Anyone Else (UK Tour), In Harm’s Way (UK Tour), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Charity Performance), BuckleUp (EdFringe16) and Bump! (EdFringe16.)   

She is the Principal at Act Out Performing Arts, which has 2 successful schools for 4-16 yr olds in Muswell Hill and Walthamstow.


She is a professional actor & singer with an extensive CV. She trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.

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Our Commitment to Community

Community is at the heart of all ELSF projects - our aim is to create accessible, high-quality projects that our local community can participate in and take ownership of.

"This is truly local, community-led theatre-making... it feels authentic to what Shakespeare was always about- entertainment for anyone and everyone." -

"ELSF deliver a memorable and community-centred experience that highlights local talent."

We work closely with an extensive network of local partners:

© East London Shakespeare Company Ltd, Registered in England, Company No 064-961760

East London based theatre company

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