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About Us


Information page

ELSF is a Waltham Forest based theatre & community company (registered charity no. 1203349) merging the contemporary culture of East London with the inspirational storytelling of Shakespeare’s plays. Presenting high-quality accessible professional outdoor production alongside community participatory programmes for local people. With a particular focus on engaging audiences and participants who have previously had limited access to live performance.


We want to make performance available to all – and reduce some of the barriers people have to experiencing & participating in it:expensive tickets, travel, isolation – by bringing

accessible theatre and cultural engagement activities to their doorstep. 


ELSF productions are not traditional outdoor Shakespeare, they are contemporary, filled with music, dance, audience interaction & relevant to diverse audiences/families/all ages. For the summer tour 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.  

We have a successful & established community engagement programme including:

  • Community Casts of up to 20 local residents (from ages 11+) joingin the professional casts of our outdoor summer theatre tour each year,

  • Apprentice Schemes: Kickstart apprentices and a paid apprentice actor roles for a local aspiring actors (18-25). The gain: professional credit & experience, free mentoring

  • Work Experience Schemes

Previous projects: 

In just three seasons ELSF have been nominated twice for Best Company by the OFFIES (for 2023's 'Romeo & Juliet' & '2021's A Midsummer Nights Dream')

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 with a community Cast of 16 members who performed in 8 shows at 2 of the venues (see feedback below). 


ELSF have recently completed 2023's summer tour of  'Romeo & Juliet' (May - Aug 2023), joined by a cast of 18 local people in the community cast. It toured East London Parks and community spaces including: 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)

Other previous productions include '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

Structure & timeline

Click here

“Acting is the shy person’s revenge upon the world” - Sinead Cusack (leading Shakespearean actor)


Our approach helps our children and young people to: build confidence, learn to work as part of a team, enhance listening skills, find their voice and explore their creativity.  All as part of an immersive, interactive introduction to Shakespeare from Key Stage2 and up.


Young Company Director’s Role – Young Company 

Weekly sessions: 

  • Prep & facilitate weekly sessions 

  • Direct Performance Projects 

Production Duties: 

  • Attend & run all dress rehearsals in performance space 

  • Attend opening night 

  • Note Show


Young Company Pilot - Provisional Schedule 2024

Block 1, Thursday 25th-January 2024 to Thursday 28th March 2024 @ CentrE17, E17 3AB 


7-11 years, 4pm-5.30pm

11-16 years, 5.30pm-7pm

16-21 years, 7pm-8.30pm.  

Creative apprenticeship scheme in place for members as they outgrow the young company or available from the start.   We will also offer LAMDA qualifications up to grade 8, these can form part of DofE and are worth up to 30 UCAS points.

Project: Acting exercises, text work and Shakespeare Scenes & Monologues with optional teaching for LAMDA qualifications.  We will be in part guided by the LAMDA syllabus for the full company sessions to open up the qualifications to as many participants as possible.


Young Company Showing (invited friends & family audience).  Showing: Date:  Thursday 28th March Location: CentrE17, E17 3AB

Block 2, Thurs 18th April 2024 – Thurs 18th July 

All ages in from 5pm – 8pm.


Project: Acting exercises, text work and rehearsal/performance of a short 30 minute show: ‘Shakespeare Compilation’ including excerpts from several of Shakespeare’s plays. We will also work towards writing/divising response pieces, inspired by the Shakespeare text participants are working on exploring another creative skill.  There are more and more successful performers in the industry that combine writing with acting/directing eg. Michela Cole, Pheobe Waller Bridge 


Block 3, Thurs 12th Sept – Dec 19th 2024 @CentrE17, E17 3AB

All ages in from 5pm-8pm

Project: production - Romeo and Juliet (70-minute abriged adaptation) The older groups will work on a performance of the abridged text.  The 7-11 group will work on a written and devised piece inspired by the original Shakespeare text.

​Full day Rehearsals: 14th & 15th Dec

Performances: 18th & 19th December Romeo and Juliet (public & invited audience) @ Leyton Great Hall, E10


Masterclasses (1 per block): 

  • Mariah Gale (Lead RSC actor) 

  • Chu Omambala  (RSC and the Globe regular)

  • Soho Walthamstow in-house Improv teacher 


Movie Night:

  • ELSF present (on a projector screen) a double bill of the National Theatre at Home productions of Shakespeare Productions

Theatre trip (1 per block): 

  • The Globe 

  • ELSF Summer Production + Q&A with cast 


(Exact details TBC, to be organised by Young Company directors). 

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

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Leyton Great Hall

Supporting docs:











Previous community engagement projects

Community Casts


This opportunity is open to everyone (from 11+) no experience necessary. Made up of up to 20 local participants for each cast. All casts have been highly diverse, with participants from Hackney & Waltham Forest ranging from a babe in arms (7 months), to 65 yrs. Participants have been: Black, Asian, from a minority ethnic group, LGBTQI+, Neuro-divergent (ADHD, Tourettes and autism.)

Feedback from participants of 2022's Twelfth Night Community Cast


This opportunity is open each year 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 also provides apprentices free mentoring and audition prep for drama school and/or professional productions

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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

Community partners

ELSF are committed to working closely with many different community partners. Here are just a few of our wonderful co-colloborators... 

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© East London Shakespeare Company Ltd, Registered in England, Company No 064-961760 | Regsitered Charity number: 1203349

East London based theatre company

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