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PROJECT: East London Shakespeare Festival (ELSF) presents 'Much Ado About Nothing' in Waltham Forest (Fellowship Square, Higham Hill, Leyton Jubilee, Langthorne Park, Highams Park), with accompanying community engagement programme

Information page for funders

Confirmed Venues:



In partnership with Fellowship Square team - Dannie Hodson-Michael, Kirsten Paterson, Carol Moloney

ELSF will perform in the paved area behind the town hall, The sensory garden will be used as a quiet area for SEN audience.

Fellowship Square: ELSF will be the first company to utilise the sensory garden behind FS, raising awareness of FS teams’ work creating an inclusive, dedicated space for SEN residents.



Thank you to Lillian Gerber for allowing us to use the magical outdoor space at Higham Hill Hub.

Higham Hill Hub is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation based within Higham Hill Park whose social purpose is to facilitate, host and deliver a diverse range of activities & seasonal events for all generations of the community.


Higham Hill Hub’s facilities include a hall, small kitchen, toilets (including disabled toilet).

The building is wheelchair accessible and the marquee area will be a designated quiet space for SEN audience.


Thank you to Joy at KukooLaLa Cafe & Chris Bonney from Greenspace, for allowing us to use the lovely space behind the cafe.


KukooLala has charm by the bucket load, and we can't wait to add some Shakespearean magic into the mix.


"We have been awarded the permanent contract to run the community cafe in Leyton Jubilee Park. It is our hope to make the cafe a meeting point for local residents to come together in a diverse warm space. Whether you need a formal, but light & airy meeting room or a magical garden, we can make your event a success. Just feeling lonely? Come for a chat. Are you a new parent or carer & looking to meet others? Check out our events or just head on down anytime & let the little one(s) have a go at our toybox for a well deserved break."



In association with Leytonstone Toy Library, Helen Crockford

Langthorne Amphitheatre – purpose-built theatre, currently unused as a theatrical space. Partnering with Helen Crockford, to make ELSF the flagship of storytelling festival to activate this community gem, bringing culture to underrepresented Cathall Ward


In association with Humphry's Cafe & Greenspace


Set in the beautiful park “The Highams Park” and surrounded by nature with stunning views of Highams Park Lake,  Humphry’s is a vibrant but relaxing café and community space. 

Humphry’s is also home to many community based activities and is used as an exhibition space for work by local artists 

Previous Projects, Productions & Successful Initiatives

Jun - Aug 2023 Romeo & Juliet + Community Engagement Programme - SEE REPORT

38 Performances

200+ Pay What You Can Attendees

3800+ Attendees

760 x 3-11 year olds took part in mask-making workshops

600 students 7-16yrs attended School matinees + pre-show workshops 

Community ensemble: 12 local people featured in 10 performances

3 Apprentice/Work experience Schemes

Partnered with 13+ Community Partners & Local Businesses

21 Professional paid roles


"We are so grateful for this cultural capital experience and the fact it was affordable.”

"I feel so lucky that we have the ELSF in our community. We've been every year for 3 years and the production is a highlight of our summer. I love that my kids have been able to get to know Shakespeare through funny, accessible shows where they can watch great actors up close. Thank you so much for giving us this joyful experience.”

June - Aug 2022 Twelfth Night + Community Engagement Programme - SEE REPORT

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

Click here

Community Engagement Programme 2024



1. Waltham Forest Community Cast – Unique performance opportunity:

Participants gain creative skills, network & experience the joy of performing.

Inclusive, FREE, open to anyone 11+


15 Waltham Forest residents take part in workshops & rehearsals at CentrE17,

learn sections of show & perform alongside the professional actors at Higham

Hill, Leyton Jubilee & Fellowship.


Format: 1x90m w/shop, 4x 90m rehearsals, 12xShows



2023 Community Cast Rehearsal:

FEEDBACK FROM 2022 & 2023

Community Casts are open to everyone 11+, no experience necessary.

Our Community Casts have been made up of 15-17 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.)


2022 Community Cast: Alumni Tasmiyah Rahman joined NYT Rep Company, Zora Duric-Speare studying at Bodens Performing Arts College. Caitlin Stevenson became our 2023 Apprentice Actor.

2023 Feedback, Greg Madden & Ruby Madden (father/daughter)

"Hi Rosie and Ursula, just a quick note to say thank you for welcoming Ruby and I into the show. It was a great experience for us both. Please pass on our thanks to all the cast and crew. It was a genuine privilege to watch you all work and to see the life affirming impact your performances had on the audiences time after time. Thank you. All the best."


1 Apprentice Actor engaged in ELSF's 2024 Summer professional tour of 'Much Ado About Nothing':


East London Shakespeare Festival will engage 1 local young actor (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: CONRAD / URSULA & MESSENGER

  •  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



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’ & 'Romeo & Juliet 2023'

  • 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’ & 'Romeo & Juliet 2023'

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



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.


Caitlin Stevenson - Rosalind / Petra

Apprentice Actor 2023

ELSF provided drama school mentoring & contribution to LAMDA fees

Since working with ELSF, Caitlin has:

Currently on BA Acting at LAMDA

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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 2024


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



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 LBWF Council, 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 £4 per child (full price children’s tickets are £8). Provisional Schools Matinee Shows Times 2024:

Fellowship Square      Friday 28th June, 12.30 – 2:30pm

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

Rosie runs educational theatre company, UpFront Theatre Company, which specialises in providing interactive workshops & plays exploring the PSHE Suggested Programme of Study for KS2, 3 & 4. She has worked extensively in educational theatre company, including The Young Shakespeare Company.

Ursula is an experienced workshop leader and facilitator and has designed and delivered an extensive range of acting and drama workshops for theatre companies and Drama Schools.

She has taught as an adult acting teacher for 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.


Thank you for the amazing performance of Romeo and Juliet. My year 6 group thoroughly  enjoyed the production and we were so happy that we were able to see something so local  (we walked to the town hall).. it was also  wonderful that the weather co-operated! 

We are a school in an area of high deprivation and we would not be able to afford to pay for 90 children to attend a play in London. Thanks to your supportive costing structure, we were able to engage 90 children in a fantastic production! This was an event that they will remember for years to come. Not only that, it  will embed knowledge and build confidence when speaking about Shakespeare in Secondary School. You make Shakespeare accessible for all!! 


Thanks Again,

Tanya Spain 

Deputy Head

South Grove Primary School

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Through previous sold-out projects, ELSF have a proven local marketing and outreach strategy in place (ELSF sold out all venues/shows during their 2021 season and Fellowship Square performances in 2022/3):

  • Collaborate with Partners to market/promote project and participatory opportunities to local residents

  • ELSF has established a strong SM following through previous projects and will run an active campaign on Twitter/Insta/Facebook

  • ELSF is member of 20+ local SM groups (i.e. Walthamstow Life, Leyton Life & Living, Leytonstone Life, Chingford).

  • E-Flyers/ticket links will be shared/posted

  • Partner organisations have committed online marketing in-kind on their SM platforms to achieve a diverse local participants.

  • Partners include CentrE17, WF Culture team, RAW Academy, Higham Hill Hub, Big Creative, Natural Voices, Leyton Orient, local ward organisations etc

  • Create engaging Flyers/Promo videos/Banners, using experienced designer Elodie Bass who designed our engaging 2022/3 print

  • Partner organisation Stow Brothers offered to print flyers & offer online marketing

  • Our new role of marketing Associate will offer outreach/marketing strategy

  • Work with professional PR company to contact/invite local/national press to review the show.

  • An important investment as will help to engage wider audiences for future productions and build ELSF’s brand London/UK wide.

  • Distribute flyers/posters across wards/local businesses



Celebrating, encouraging & promoting diversity is at the heart of ELSF’s core aims & ethos. ELSF is female-led & Co-Artistic Directors are both Freelance mothers to young children.


•        ELSF hiring policies in-line with Newham/Haringey/Bromley’s inclusivity & diversity aims

•        Job descr. to encourage apps from underrepresented groups

•        Accessible venues

•        Flexible working (accommodate parents/carers)

•        Participants representative of diverse E. London communities


•        Inclusive reh. Practices, consulting w/industry experts to ensure supportive environment

•        Ongoing evaluation/feedback w/ participants/practitioners, to ensure diversity & inclusivity aims are met & adjusted if necessary

•        Aim for all engaged Cast/Creative  to be (min.) 50% from underrepresented groups


Track Record, 2021/2/3 Projects:

•        Over 50% of creatives engaged by ELSF have identified as LGBTQI+

•        All gender-identities auditioned for roles in pro-shows

•        Feedback forms cited ‘diverse cast’ as feature of shows

•        Cast/Creative team incl: Caribbean British, Middle Eastern, Indian, African West African, Caribbean, Mexican, Barbadian; non-binary, trans, queer

•        Reasonable adjustments in place to facilitate working parents, pregnancy & Anxiety, ADHD, ASD, Bipolar

•        Comm. Cast members from diverse backgrounds & additional needs: Autism, Tourettes, alcohol dependence


UE updated headsh.jpg



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


With a career in theatre 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



Based in Leytonstone 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.


Genevieve Dunne – Movement Director


As a Leytonstone girl, born and bred, Genevieve is delighted to be creating on home turf.


Genevieve trained in clowning and mime at the Jacques Lecoq school in Paris before completing a Masters in Acting at East 15. She has performed in theatres including The Lyric Hammersmith, The Orange Tree and Bristol Old Vic, working with companies such as Sell A Door, The Pleasance and Vital Stages, but has spent the last four years mainly touring the world with internationally acclaimed physical theatre company 1927 as well as producing modern adaptations of classical myths with her own company NMT Automatics.



PATRICK RUFEY – Musical Director


Patrick trained at the Guildhall school of Music and Drama.

Musical Direction credits Include: Peter Pan, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty (Evolution Productions) NewsRevue 2012-2017 (The Canal Café Theatre, London) An Evening of Jerry Herman (St Pauls, The Actors Church, Covent Garden), Jack & The Beanstalk (The Beck Theatre, QDOS), Jack & The Beanstalk (Buxton Opera House) Cole Porter’s Jubilee (UK Premier, The Tabard Theatre, London), Peter Pan (Paul Holman Associates Pantomime, The Oakengates Theatre, Telford), My Lands Shore (UK Premier Concert Production, The Royal Academy of Music, London) Paprika Crisps (The Unicorn Theatre, London) Days of Hope (St Pauls, The Actors Church, Covent Garden) The Birds (The Leicester Square Theatre, London) Patrick Is also Principle Conductor of The Virtual Theatre Orchestra, formed in 2020 during Covid Lockdown.

As a Composer, Patrick has written for Talkwood Productions; a Musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol, which was performed at The Charing Cross Theatre in London in 2013, a musical parody of the Stephen Spielberg movie ‘Jurassic Park’ called Jurassic Lark The Musical (from the perspective of the Dinosaurs), which premiered at the Leister Square Theatre April 2015. Most recently He has written 1066 A New Musical and the studio cast album is available on all streaming services.

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

East London based theatre company

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