Marching and chanting of Secret Cinema prisoners upsets Hackney neighbours

�The Secret Cinema phenomenon has seen a backlash from nearby residents complaining about hundreds of film fans dressed up as prisoners yelling and marching up and down a Hackney yard.

The hugely popular and innovative role-play concept sees mystery films screened in secret locations by organisers Future Cinema, who charge �45 a head.

Films are brought to life through immersive theatre, and previous productions include Ghostbusters, Bugsy Malone and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

The current set is in a disused public building near Victoria Park, but, in the spirit of goodwill, the Gazette has agreed not to disclose the precise location.

Neighbours have complained to the council about people chanting, singing and yelling between 6pm and 8.30pm at the events, which are staged from Thursday to Sunday.

A blaring siren also caused disturbance, but it was shelved after the first performance.

Nearby resident Bridget Galilee said: “We don’t oppose cultural programmes in general and it’s great to see the site being used, but the use of the former playground is something we cannot tolerate.”

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The current project ends on December 2, but concern is mounting about a application to extend the licence until June to allow live cinematic events serving alcohol, with weekend matinees and an 11.30pm closing time.

A Hackney Council spokesman said the building was let on the basis that performances would not cause undue disruption to residents.

“We are concerned by the complaints we have received in the last week and we are working with [the organisers] to try to resolve these issues ahead of this weekend’s performances,” she added.

But other neighbours remain excited about the production – Sarah Fraser Steele, the owner of a nearby deli, believes what Future Cinema is bringing to the community is “incredible” and “magical”.

“We are thrilled they are incorporating work with local businesses and are working alongside a huge number of charities,” she said.

A spokesman for Future Cinema said it had scheduled weekly residents’ meetings beginning this week, and had also invited neighbours to attend the production free of charge.

In the new year the organisers have plans to work with local vicars and various charities, and to run workshops for children’s charity Hackney Quest.

A spokesman said: “Future Cinema believes in community above all other factors, and wholeheartedly works to engage with the local community on all productions to support access to culture and art across all social sectors.”