On 02 October 2017 the theatre entered a new chapter when Nadia Fall took the reins as Artistic Director.
Nadia's first season opened with an updated version of the Spanish Golden Age play Fuente Ovejuna by Lope de Vega. Transported from Spain to modern day rural India, and adapted by April De Angelis, THE VILLAGE paid homage to Joan Littlewood who staged a production of Fuente Ovejuna (called The Sheep Well) at Stratford East in 1954.
The season was met with great critical acclaim and consisted of BALLET BLACK, THE WOLVES by Sarah DeLappe, cabaret-variety QUEER LATES, panto SLEEPING BEAUTY, Frantic Assembly's THE UNRETURNING by Anna Jordan, EQUUS by Peter Shaffer and directed by Ned Bennett (a co-production with English Touring Theatre), which transferred to the West End's Trafalgar Studios, Pilot Theatre's NOUGHTS & CROSSES by Sabrina Mahfouz adapted from the Malorie Blackman novel and KING HEDLEY II by August Wilson and starring Lenny Henry, which Nadia also directed. The season was rounded off by Benjamin Britten's NOYE'S FLUDDE, a co-production with English National Opera that saw over 200 amateur performers from the local community take to the Stratford East stage.
Nadia's second season kicked off in September 2019 with Katori Hall's OUR LADY OF KIBEHO with Royal & Derngate Northampton. We also welcomed Paines Plough's ROUNDABOUT for a mini festival of new writing, cabaret, music, magic and community events. Our 2019 panto was DICK WHITTINGTON and was followed by the London premiere of Janice Okoh's comedy THE GIFT by Eclipse Theatre. In Feb 2020 we welcomed the return our our variety cabaret QUEER LATES x QUEERSTORY as well as the return of Frantic Assembly with their new play I THINK WE ARE ALONE by Sally Abbott, co-directed by Kathy Burke and Scott Graham.
In March 2020, Stratford East and ETT's production of EQUUS won three Off-West End Awards for Best Production, Best Director (Ned Bennett) and Best Lighting Design (Jessica Hung Han Yun). In the same month, Stratford East was nominated for three Olivier Awards for Achievement in Affiliate Theatre (OUR LADY OF KIBEHO), Best New Opera (NOYE'S FLUDDE) and Best Achievement in Opera (Children's Ensemble in NOYE'S FLUDDE), with the theatre winning the Best Achievement in Opera.
At the end of March 2020, Stratford East had to close its doors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and cut short the season, which should have included the world premiere of Nadia Fall's WELCOME TO IRAN (a co-production with the National Theatre), the next instalment from Ramps on the Moon: Leeds Playhouse's OLIVER TWIST and a revival of Roy Williams' SUCKER PUNCH.
During the pandemic, Stratford East moved its programme online and continued creating working with the community and local young people. After calling out to local key workers to hear their stories, Stratford East created NO MASKS - a one-off drama starring Russell Tovey, Anya Chalotra and Eamonn Walker that was shown on Sky Arts in September 2020. In May 2020, Stratford East produced a new audio series 846. Led by Roy Williams, 14 Black and Asian playwrights were brought together to respond artistically to the murder of George Floyd. A selection of these short audio plays were then performed live as part of the Greenwich+Docklands International Festival.
As the pandemic continued, Stratford East also continued to make work, with a series of five new mini-plays called PRESS PLAY HERE. These were initially available for local residents in East London via a QR code and then released more widely in early 2021. Nadia Fall and Eleanor Lang were also listed on The Stage 100 recognising those who have gone above and beyond in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. In May of that year, Fall's WELCOME TO IRAN was specially recorded for radio and broadcast on BBC Radio 3, as part of lockdown theatre. On 02 June Fall's production of Dipo Baruwa-Etti's THE SUN, THE MOON AND THE STARS began previews after 15 months of no work on our stage.
Photo: Hugo Glendinning