Arcola plans festival-style theatre tent in the heart of Dalston

Plans have been announced for a new festival-style performance tent in the heart of Dalston.

Arcola Theatre wants to open a 16 metre-tall temporary venue on derelict land near to its new home in Ashwin Street next Thursday (August 4), which will host circus acts, live art and fringe theatre over the next year.

Bosses say they need to build the 400-seat tent because Arcola’s new auditorium can only hold 160 people and is too small to attract the UK’s top theatre companies.

They hope the �10,000 project will become a permanent extension of Arcola as part of its plans for the world’s first carbon-neutral theatre, built from straw and mud.

“The tent is fundamental to the future of the theatre,” executive director Dr Ben Todd told the Gazette.

“If you look at how our profile is growing since the move, we are getting really big companies asking to work with us but with only 160 seats it is not possible.

“If we were to stop now we would lose our momentum. The site’s available – we must take it now or lose it forever.”

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Arcola Theatre reopened in the old Colourworks factory in Ashwin Street in January and launched an appeal for �150,000 in donations needed for the first stage in its development. No extra funding is being made available for the tent so Arcola is asking volunteers to help with the build.

The final paperwork is still being completed but organisers hope the new venue will operate between two and seven days a week and say they will balance louder activities with quiet events that will not disturb neighbours.

The programme is to be one third Arcola Theatre productions, one third visiting professional artists and one third community use.