Interview: James Pidgeon, Producer at Shoreditch Town Hall
We caught up with the prolific Shoreditch Town Hall producer James Pidgeon to see what gets him excited in London including: a ditch in Shoreditch, free festivals & taking a dip in some of London’s coolest swimming pools.
Tell us about the events you make.
Being Programme Manager and Producer at Shoreditch Town Hall I’m lucky enough to be involved in producing a range of artistic and live performance events whether it be experimental theatre, circus, live music, comedy, new writing and dance, or workshops, community activities, masterclasses and artist development schemes. Plus I get to do it all in the coolest new arts venue that London has seen in the last couple of years (I understand I’m biased!), in the most incredible of buildings, in one of the funkiest areas of this city.
What makes your events different?
I’d hope that people get from Shoreditch Town Hall’s programme the variety and originality of the work we produce. There’s a wide range of events and activities taking place (many made specifically for the building) that anyone and everyone can get involved in. The building is intrinsic to the uniqueness of our events with the Town Hall’s spaces, whether that be the grandeur of the main Assembly Hall or the warren of untouched basement spaces, The Ditch, being a key part of our audience experience. The building not only deserves adventurous artists but adventurous audiences too. Ones who are up for being surprised.
What’s your favourite show you’ve produced and why?
This is a tough one… At Shoreditch Town Hall I’ve loved playing in the Assembly Hall – it’s the most beautiful space that’s hosted a variety of activities in the past, from Victorian musical hall and variety to boxing in the 1960s. The space can be configured in a range of ways and that is what’s really exciting for me – Gandini Juggling’s CLØWNS & QUEENS was completely different to Scottee’s Camp (New Year’s Eve), and in November you’ll see a very different set-up again for Action Hero’s Hoke’s Bluff.
Having said that, a personal highlight for me at the Town Hall to date was Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari’s Party Skills for the End of the World in The Ditch in February 2014. The Ditch was transformed for the most brilliant interactive experience, and Nigel and Louise are simply a joy to work with. I’m really excited about future projects coming up with them.
Who inspires you?
Is it really cheesy to say artists? Of course artists inspire me in my day-to-day job – that’s what makes me do what I do – but in general, artists and the work they make continue, whether consciously or subconsciously, to inspire me and inform the way I think about the world. It’s hard for artists to make work in this country, let alone new work, and so I feed off those people who have the determination, the enthusiasm and the heart to make really genuine work that pushes boundaries, touches both individuals and society at large, and inspires change.
What are your favourite places to go in London? (To eat, to relax, to party etc.)
Being a born and bred Devon country boy, I love hanging out in places like Battersea Park, Clapham Common or along Regent’s Canal. You can’t beat places like Barrio East on Shoreditch High Street or Wenlock and Essex in Islington for partying, and for food I’m a huge fan of both Pizza East and Wahaca. Shakespeare’s Globe is a particularly favourite place of mine to go to in London, as is the Roundhouse. They’re both brilliantly unique and their atmospheres are electric in their own individual ways. Having said that, perhaps I just simply having a thing for round buildings?!
What are your favourite free or cheap things to do in London?
I used to work on the Watch This Space Festival at the National Theatre and from that learnt how incredible it is to have artistic activity that’s free and accessible. So I definitely hype up any of London’s big free summer arts festivals like Watch This Space (this year at St John’s Church in Waterloo and throughout Lambeth and Southwark), Greenwich and Docklands International Festival, City of London Festival and so on.
I love to swim when I can and particularly enjoy going to Tooting or Brockwell Lidos, or if I’m feeling adventurous, the lakes at Hampstead Heath. I also love Monday Madness at the Barbican Centre where all cinema tickets are only £6 – amazing!
What’s on your To Do List for the rest of 2014?
We’ve just announced our autumn season at Shoreditch Town Hall and there’s SO many exciting things coming up, particularly the London Premieres of both Action Hero’s Hoke’s Bluff and Analogue’s Stowaway as well as cool events like our Musical Bingo Halloween Spooktacular with Jess Indeedy and our A Festive Night of Swing with London Swing Dance Society. Also our FREE live music gigs in The Ditch are not to be missed.
Also on my To Do List I’ve got some half marathons in Richmond and Oxford coming up (love a half marathon although I can’t even begin to imagine running a full one) and I can’t wait for Edinburgh this year – there’s some really exciting work going up and being a fish and chip fan, I’m also naturally looking forward to my annual visit to Benes on The Royal Mile!