About Us

‘A timely reminder of the artistically engaged ethic that has underpinned the Arcola’s astonishing achievement over the past decade.’ – Lucy Powell, Time Out 2010





Founded in 2000 by Artistic Director Mehmet Ergen and Executive Producer Leyla Nazli, Arcola Theatre is now one of the most respected arts venues in the UK – blazing a trail in artistic excellence and innovative management since day-one. Housed in a converted paint factory in Hackney, Arcola is a favourite of established theatre literati as well as young, upwardly mobile innovators. Arcola has become well known for the variety of its programming– from new writing to classic drama, music and comedy.

Arcola has staged work by some of the best living actors, writers and directors including productions by William Gaskill, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Ariel Dorfman, Sean Holmes, Dominic Dromgoole, Max Stafford-Clark, Frank McGuinness, Jack Shepherd, David Farr, Bonnie Greer, Adam Rapp, Sam Shepard, Eric Schlosser, Helena Kaut-Howson, Greg Hicks, Lia Williams, Bill Bryden, Rebecca Lenkiewicz and Kathryn Hunter.

‘Arcola Theatre brings the very best of the worlds performing and visual arts to the people of the world living and working in London’ The Guardian

Our in-house productions are complemented by groundbreaking work in Studio 2 from some of the most exciting young companies in the world. Arcola is much more than an arts venue and runs one of the most extensive multi-cultural community and youth programmes in East London.

What does Arcola mean to you? from James Rattee on Vimeo.




With about a dozen full time staff and a small army of volunteers and interns, Arcola has developed a powerful identity within its local community and the UK theatre scene: Arcola lives on love and hope …” (The Independent)


Press on Arcola Theatre

“An undisputed powerhouse” -Time Out

“In the East End, the Arcola has become one of London’s most enticing fringe theatres, presenting forgotten classics with outstanding casts”Kate Bassett, Independent on Sunday, September 29th 2008

“I love the Arcola” – Lloyd Evans, The Spectator, March 2008

“The Arcola theatre is a good example of why London’s cultural sector is so dynamic and successful. Arcola is leading the theatre industry in developing this premier sustainable production and I know that many other theatres are now keen to follow. The Living Unknown Soldier is unique in that it is the world’s first production powered by a fuel cell, supplied and sponsored by the London Hydrogen Partnership. Every individual, every business, every shop and every theatre has a part to play in tackling climate change… and this lead by Arcola Theatre is just what we need.” – Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London, February 2008

“Economy of dramatic expression fits well with the Arcola’s new policy of “ecologically sustainable” production. The actors’ energy is supplemented by that running off the newly installed hydrogen fuel cell and the new “efficient” light bulbs everywhere in the building. With a staff of just nine, and a 40 percent increase in Arts Council grant, the Arcola certainly looks like a mean, lean machine revving up for new challenges” – Michael Coveney, What’s On Stage, February 19th 2008

“When it comes to exploring the forgotten slipstreams of the pre-20th century European drama, the Arcola makes the National, which ought to venture the same, unfamiliar terrain, seem by comparison a parochial paddler” – Nicolas de Jongh, Evening Standard, October 22nd 2007

“Arcola is a powerhouse of new work” - Susannah Clapp, The Observer, 2007

“The Arcola is one of the great success stories of the British theatre… The Arcola buzzes”The Stage, January 2007

“The persistently adventurous Arcola Theatre” – Michael Coveney, August 29th 2006

“…the pioneering fringe theatre, Arcola” – The Independent “Founded and funded by Turkish émigré director Mehmet Ergen in a former carpet factory in Dalston in 2000, the Arcola has earned the highest accolades from the national press…” – The Telegraph “may well surpass all London’s other Fringe venues for width and depth” - The Times “I congratulate Arcola Theatre for showing leadership in taking this innovative creative approach to the greatest challenge we face today – climate change” – Colin Challen, Member of Parliament, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Climate Change.


Arcola Theatre is run by Arcola Theatre Production Company, a charity registered in England and Wales (Charity Number: 1108613).


Arcola is a founding member of Hackney Theatre Partnership, a member of OffWestEnd.com, and a member of the London Hub of Sustained Theatre which is part of the National Sustained Theatre network.