Interview with The Hope Theatre’s artistic director
The Hope Theatre’s artistic director Matthew Parker speaks to IslingtonLife about the venue and what’s coming up…
Could you briefly tell us about the history of the theatre?
The Hope Theatre opened its doors three years ago. It was the first 50 seat theatre to open with an agreement with Equity in place to guarantee all actors, stage managers and box office staff that work at the venue, a legal wage. There are still only two 50 seat theatres in London that guarantee such an arrangement.
What makes it such a special venue?
Many theatres above or connected to pubs are just a room without much atmosphere but The Hope has a tangible atmosphere. You are also very close to the actors at all times as it is an intimate studio space so you feel very connected to the story and action.
What is your role at the theatre and what do you like about it? And is there anything you don’t like so much?
I am Artistic Director meaning I run every aspect of the theatre from programming theatre companies work to putting the bin bags out. I manage the staff and everything you can possibly think of connected to the venue – marketing, website, box office. Plus I also direct our in-house productions (most shows at The Hope are from visiting companies). I have directed two in-house shows so far this year and am now in rehearsal for my third.
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The only thing I dislike about my job is that there are simply never enough hours in the day or money in the bank. We are completely unfunded and so we are totally reliant on ticket sales and kind donations from our audience.
It also gets quite tricky keeping on top of all my role as AD when I am rehearsing a show at the same time. It’s essentially two full time jobs. But I love it so it’s never really work. It never feels like work when you are lucky to be doing what you love.
Other than the Hope Theatre, what else do you love about Islington?
The food! So much choice. It’s wonderful.
If you could change one thing about the borough, what would it be?
No Arsenal home games!! I’m not a football fan.
Tell us about Her Aching Heart, and why should we go and see it?
It’s a comic musical with it’s tongue placed firmly in it’s cheek. I first saw it at Uni over 20 years ago and loved it immediately. So I’ve been waiting to direct it for half my life!! It’s a fast paced, funny and fruity romp, pastiching Gothic literature with a sapphic twist. Two actresses play eight roles between them and keep bursting into song. It’s theatrical, sexy and hilarious. What’s not to love?!!
Can you give us a sneak preview of anything coming up next year?
I’ve just completed programming the first half of 2017 and I’m super excited about the mix of work we have coming in – new writing, devised work, re-imaginings of Shakespeare, musicals and lost classics. It’s a brilliant mix from a fantastically eclectic group of companies. But you can guarantee they will all have one thing in common – they will all be passionate and fun theatre makers producing brilliant and entertaining work!
Matthew Parker is the Artistic Director of The Hope Theatre on Upper Street. He is currently directing the final in-house production of 2016: Bryony Lavery’s Her Aching Heart, running from the 29 November – 23 December. Purchase tickets here.