IS it farewell to the Hackney Empire? The rose-red Edwardian playhouse will operate a vastly reduced programme this year so it can undergo a “period of reflection”. Under “Hackney Empire”, the Society of London Theatres’ listings say simply: “This theatre is currently dark.” The part-closure is reportedly being undertaken for want of half a million pounds. The theatre will no doubt fill this comparatively small hole with backing from some sponsor, but the real problem is the venue’s business model. Too few people are being enticed through the doors. Reflection is indeed needed.Fans should have a listen to the Hackney Podcast (hackneypodcast.co.uk) – a monthly radio programme which this month explores the playhouse’s past, interviewing a group of Empire afficionados known as “The Elders”.
• The London International Mime Festival opens later this month and the programme looks amazing. The festival, will take place at venues across the capital including the Barbican, ICA and Royal Opera House. Among the shows are USSR Was Here by Russian collective BlackSkyWhite – a “vision of disintegration” full of masks and grotesque costumes – and Eshet, a play based on an Old Testament story, created by Israel’s Etgar Theatre. The festival runs from January 13-31. See mimefest.co.uk.
• An award-winning play is set to be revived by am-dram maestros The Tower Theatre Company later this month. Cigarettes and Chocolate, by Anthony Minghella, winner of the Giles Cooper Award and the Sony Award for best radio play, is on at the Theatro Technis from January 26-30. It’s part of a double bill with another Minghella play, Prix Italia winner Hang Up. For tickets call 020 7226 3633.